Rejecting God the King

Posted: September 2, 2009 in 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 8-9, “Rejecting God the King”

For the 1st time in a long time, Israel actually has been under the leadership of a very good judge. After the Ark of the Covenant had been returned by the humbled Philistines (God had shown them how useless their pagan idol was), Samuel helped turn Israel’s heart back to following the Lord, and led the Hebrews in victory over the Philistines. Over the next many years, he judged Israel as he travelled on a circuit through the countryside.

Samuel was a prophet, a priest, and a judge – but there was one role he did not have: a king. The King of Israel was God Himself. This should have been recognized as an unbelievable honor & privilege, but history tells us the Hebrews ignored it & cast God aside. And that’s exactly what we’re looking at in 1 Samuel 8-9. This isn’t so much the story of the rise of a new king as it is the rejection of their current one. Israel had the perfect king – the best monarch imaginable, and they tossed it aside for someone far less worthy.

1 Samuel 8 (NKJV)
1 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

A. Samuel was apparently no better a father than Eli… His sons were also perverse…
B. Eli was (in essence) a father figure to Samuel & Samuel obviously learned from his example. We need to take care as to what behaviors and patterns we’re modeling for our children…

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

A. The elders of Israel have a semi-legitimate challenge: Samuel obviously isn’t going to live forever & his sons are by no means qualified to be rulers in the land… (DA Carson) “There is dramatic irony in all this. With both Eli and now Samuel, it was obvious to everybody that great and good men can have evil, worthless sons; and yet the elders responded by demanding a king. By definition, a king is a ruler whose son automatically becomes king after him!” In the end, Samuel’s sons are just a good excuse to getting what they really want: a king.

B. Their real motivation? Apparently they wanted to be like all the other nations around them. Egypt, Philistia, etc. had kings, and they wanted a king as well. Problem: Israel was never supposed to be like the other nations! They were supposed to be set apart & look different from the rest in order to point the Gentile nations to the Lord God…

C. The challenge isn’t the problem; it’s how they handle it. Instead of looking to the Lord to provide a solution – instead of praying & seeking His face – they just look to themselves & come up with their own solution…
__a. Be careful about jumping the gun in the middle of a trial. Israel had a real issue on their hands that definitely needed to be dealt with. But they didn’t take the time or the steps in order to deal with it properly. We ought to seek the Lord’s will through the Bible… …

6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 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. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also.

A. How utterly sad! In their selfishness, Israel wasn’t just asking for a king; they were in reality rejecting God AS their king. They already HAD a king: God Almighty! The whole idea behind the book of Deuteronomy is that it is a formalized covenant between a King (God) & His people (Israel). They had affirmed over & over again (with their lips; not necessarily with their hearts) that they would serve the Lord alone. But at this point, they are basically committing treason.
__a. In truth, Israel had the best form of government possible: a true theocracy. It was “true” in that God really was active in ruling His people. He gave them judges & prophets (to be sure), but they actively received revelation from the Lord Himself on many day-to-day issues. What are called “theocracies” today are imperfect theocracies because they are not truly ruled by God; they are ruled by men who claim to speak for God (and in most cases, they follow a false god entirely!). A perfect theocracy where Almighty God really IS king is an absolutely perfect system of government, because the Monarch is absolutely perfect and all powerful.
__b. This is what we can look forward to during the Millennium! Jesus will truly rule the nations as King of Kings! …

B. Rejecting God was nothing new for Israel. They had been doing it since the very day God brought them up out of Egypt. They rebelled at the bank of the Red Sea – they rebelled at the bitter waters on the other side of the Red Sea – they rebelled when they were hungry (before God gave them manna) – they rebelled when they were thirsty (and God gave them water from the rock) – on & on it goes until they rebel at the edge of the Promised Land. And even then they rebel against Moses when they didn’t like the discipline of God. This was a well-established pattern for them.
__a. Some people reject God their entire lives. They hear the gospel of Jesus dozens of times, but consciously reject His offer of salvation. Eventually the point comes that God agrees with their rejection of Him & they will spend eternity apart from the One they wanted nothing to do with (and then it will be too late)…

9 Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

A. Interesting that God answered their prayer/request even though it was bad for them. Sometimes God guards us from ourselves & says “No” to our prayers; sometimes the consequence of our prayer may be the exact discipline we need to start seeking the Lord again!
__a. This was exactly Israel’s problem. Their desire was not God’s desire. They were not honoring Him with this request (quite the opposite!); they were not seeking to obey His word. They wanted their own selfish desires & didn’t care about the consequences along the way.

B. Gives them one last warning & opportunity to turn back. The people obviously don’t understand what they’re asking for. They want a king, but they don’t realize that they already have the best King possible. They were consciously rejecting God, but if they truly understood who it was they were rejecting, it’s unlikely they would have dared to do so…

10 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

A. We might entitle this speech: “Be careful what you wish for”… This is the warning God gave Samuel to pass on to the people regarding the king they were asking for. We need to keep in mind that not every king was like Saul (as imperfect as he was) & David. Even as soon as Solomon, the things Samuel warned them about started to take place. Beyond him, there were incredibly wicked kings in Israel’s & Judah’s history, and people would eventually truly suffer under their actions…
__a. God’s ways are always the best ways!

B. Warning #1: He’ll take your sons to make them soldiers & send them into battle…

13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants.

A. Warning #2: He’ll take your daughters to make them his servants…
B. He’ll take your land & make it his land…

15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants.

A. He’ll take a part of everything you own & use it to enrich himself…

B. Basically, what’s being talked about here is taxation. Israel already paid tithes (various versions) that were supposed to care for the priests, the poor, and all of it used to glorify God in some way. This tax was beyond all this & was just going to pay for the king. … Keep in mind that God had been their king & was doing everything for Israel that they wanted a human king to do. But since they wanted a human king, it was going to cost them.
__a. Carnal ways always cost us!

18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”

A. IOW, this was their last chance. Once God gave them a king, He would make them serve their king & there wouldn’t be a chance to reverse it to go back to what they had before.

19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

A. They made their decision – and reaffirmed that they were more motivated by the nations around them than by any devotion they may have had for their God.

B. Think about what it was they were rejecting. God Almighty had freed them from slavery in Egypt – parted the Red Sea – took them through the wilderness – provided miraculous bread and water – destroyed the nations before them, and more. THIS was their God & King. And yet, God wasn’t ‘good enough’ for Israel… How sad.

21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the LORD. 22 So the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.” And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.”

A. Samuel is truly acting a like a priest & mediator here. He took the words of God to the people & took the words of the people back to God. That’s ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ! He’s our one mediator (1 Tim 2:5), representing God to man & man to God. Perfectly fulfilling the judgment of God on our behalf & showing us to be righteous before the sight of God in His grace…

B. Again, we see God answering their prayer – even though it wasn’t the best thing for Israel. … Keep in mind that God was not taken by surprise by any of this. He had prepared Israel for their future king through the law of Moses… Deuteronomy 17:14-15 (14) “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ (15) you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. [] In addition, God had certain guidelines for him: he was not to multiply horses (any possessions) for gain – he was not to take multiple wives & be ensnared by idolatry (per Solomon) – he was to write his own personal copy of the Law so that he would fear the Lord. (Did any king do this??) Thus God was prepared & He had attempted to prepare His people.
__a. Question: if God had already planned within the Law for Israel to be prepared for a king, why is Samuel throwing such a “to-do” about this? Because of the timing. God obviously had planned to bring forth the royal line of David in order to ultimately bring about the incarnation of Jesus Christ (and arrange things for Jesus’ future reign as the Millennial King). But David is still a generation away. This isn’t God graciously giving Israel a king after His own heart; this is Israel’s treason & apostasy away from God. There’s a big difference! God (in His omniscience) knew Israel was going to do this, so He allows it to happen. But God had something greater in store for Israel; they just weren’t willing to wait.

1 Samuel 9 (NKJV)
1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. 2 And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

A. Introduction to Saul… Interesting that his most notable “qualification” was that he was good-looking. He was certainly God’s choice for Israel, but one wonders if God didn’t choose him precisely because Saul was the kind of guy that Israel was expecting in order to be like the other nations…

B. The ironic thing here is the choice of the tribes: Benjamin. The last time we saw Benjamin mentioned among the tribes of Israel was the atrocity that was carried out in Gibeah (Judges 19), and the civil war that was brought about as a result of the rape and violence.

3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4 So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them. 5 When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.”

A. There weren’t any donkey lo-jacks at the time, so Saul had to go out looking for them. 🙂 Apparently they headed off in the wrong direction & was gone looking for the donkeys for so long that Saul’s father was about to send out a search party for them…

6 And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.”

A. Good advice! Don’t know what to do? Consult the Lord! At the time, they did it by seeking out the local prophet; today we do it by seeking out the written Word of God… The Scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” that we may be complete & thoroughly equipped (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Bible ought to be the 1st book we pick up when dealing with issues!

7 Then Saul said to his servant, “But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread in our vessels is all gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8 And the servant answered Saul again and said, “Look, I have here at hand one-fourth of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) 10 Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was.

A. Arranged some sort of payment. It wasn’t much, but it was customary at the time to bring a gift…and money was appropriate. We’re not told whether or not Samuel received the gift, of if he turned it away (per Elisha & Naaman – 2 Kings 5).

11 As they went up the hill to the city, they met some young women going out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12 And they answered them and said, “Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place. 13 As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.” 14 So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way up to the high place.

A. We don’t know exactly what kind of sacrifice this was. Obviously one had to be invited to participate…but that’s what was supposed to take place with the sacrifices. If you brought it, you were supposed to partake of it with the priest – and that’s what Samuel was headed up to the place to participate.

B. Typically we read of “high places” in Scripture as places of idolatry. The sacrifices were supposed to only take place at the Tabernacle or the Temple (the place where God showed them). But considering the Ark of the Covenant was still at Kirjath Jearim & Shiloh was destroyed (we’re not told whether or not the Tabernacle was damaged), apparently Samuel allowed sacrifices to God to occur in the high places.

15 Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.”

A. Notice the past tense here: God had prepared Samuel in advance for what was going to happen. He had told Samuel that He would provide a king for Israel; now God tells Samuel that He’s going to point out the man. Very specific descriptions…

B. Interesting that God uses some of the same language with Samuel that He used with Moses concerning the slavery in Egypt. “their cry has come to Me…” (Exo 3:7) “…have heard their cry because of their taskmasters…” What’s interesting about this is that the situation was completely different between Egypt & Philistia. While in Egypt, the Hebrews were abject slaves & truly oppressed – killed at the whim of the Pharaoh. With the Philistines, the Hebrews had ongoing battles & sometimes served as a vassal (subject) people – but they were never truly enslaved by them. Besides, the last indication we received was that Samuel had delivered them out of the hands of the Philistines & they should have still been in a time of relative peace. What’s going on here? Simple: Israel didn’t appreciate what they had & they complained about it. They didn’t appreciate the Lord God being their King & they didn’t appreciate the protection He gave them…thus any trial became oppression.
__a. YET – God still heard their cry. He still looked upon their people & had compassion on them. Even when there was no reason for them to require compassion, God still demonstrated His mercy. … Sometimes we forget just how much God loves us as His sons & daughters. We complain about all sorts of things – we have a tough time witnessing because we think we’ll get dirty looks (it’s not like they have stones to throw at us. Look for rocks. 🙂 ). But God still loves us – He still has compassion on us as His children.

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.”

A. Ultimately, this wasn’t to last. But another whom the Lord showed among the people does reign forever! (Jesus at His baptism – “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” Matt 3:17)

B. Whose people was it? God’s! “MY people…” They may have asked for a new king, but God was still the ultimate sovereign over Israel. The king was to report directly to God (sometimes via the prophets – re: Nathan & David) because this people was still GOD’s people.
__a. Today, during this present church age, WE are God’s people! What a glorious privilege! 1 Peter 2:9-10 (9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (10) who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. [] What a privilege!!

18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?” 19 Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?” 21 And Saul answered and said, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?”

A. Was it important to Saul’s family that the donkeys be found? Of course. But notice how God used the loss of the donkeys. That was precisely the thing God used to bring Saul before Samuel in order to be proclaimed an anointed king of Israel (in the next chapters). …

B. How was Saul the “desire of Israel?” He was chosen by God to fulfill the request of the people as their king. Again, Saul was just a temporary (and imperfect) king at best. Truly the desire of Israel is the Anointed One of God: Jesus the Messiah!

22 Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Set it apart.’ ” 24 So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here it is, what was kept back. It was set apart for you. Eat; for until this time it has been kept for you, since I said I invited the people.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

A. Samuel had been prepared for Saul this whole time – even saved the choice portion of the meal for him…

B. Can you imagine the thoughts going through Saul’s head? Here he was, just trying to please his father by finding the lost donkeys – he gets delayed on his journey & while asking for help, he gets seated by the highest judge/priest in all Israel & the place of honor among the entire city… …
__a. To a much greater extreme, that’s what happens to us in Christ Jesus. We have our minds on earthly things & on ourselves – then God changes everything. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin – the Father draws us to Jesus – we believe that Jesus is the Son of God & in the work He did at the cross for sin & we receive Him as Lord. At that moment, we go from death to life… And not just any life; we’re given eternal, abundant life! We’re adopted into the family of God & made co-heirs with Jesus… We’re seated at HIS table…

25 When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house. 26 They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, “Get up, that I may send you on your way.” And Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel. 27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” And he went on. “But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God.”

Cliffhanger of a place to leave off – but if we didn’t, we’d end up going for 4 chapters tonight.  Saul still doesn’t know what’s in store; but God does…

Regardless of the fact that we today don’t live in a physical kingdom, we ARE citizens of a spiritual kingdom – and our King is the same as Israel once had: God Almighty, as revealed through Jesus Christ. What a calling… What a privilege…

Be careful not to make the same mistake as ancient Israel: don’t reject your King! At the most basic level, this is what the worldly person does every single day. They haven’t received the forgiveness of Jesus offered through the cross & thus they reject God as their King. They have no right to call Jesus their King because they haven’t received Him as Lord. But yet to receive the grace offered through Jesus Christ, we MUST receive Him as Savior & Lord! …

For the Christian, we can also make this mistake on a sub-conscious level. We may not purpose to reject Jesus as our King, but that’s precisely what we do when we decide to ignore His leadings & live life according to sinful desires…


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