SAUL BECOMES KING
Psalm 103:19, ESV
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
1 SAMUEL 8:1-9, NIrV
1 When Samuel became old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. 2 The name of his oldest son was Joel. The name of his second son was Abijah. They served as judges at Beersheba. 3 But his sons didn’t live as he did. They were only interested in making money. They accepted money from people who wanted special favors. They made things that were wrong appear to be right.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together. They came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old. Your sons don’t live as you do. So appoint a king to lead us. We want a king just like the kings all the other nations have.”
6 Samuel wasn’t pleased when they said, “Give us a king to lead us.” So he prayed to the Lord. 7 The Lord told him, “Listen to everything the people are saying to you. You are not the one they have turned their backs on. I am the one they do not want as their king. 8 They are doing just as they have always done. They have deserted me and served other gods. They have done that from the time I brought them up out of Egypt until this day. Now they are deserting you too. 9 Let them have what they want. But give them a strong warning. Let them know what the king who rules over them will expect to be done for him.”
Unlike the nations around them, the Israelites had never had a king to rule over them or lead them into battle. Actually, they did have a king – the Lord God. He made their laws and defeated their enemies. Many men led Israel over the years, guys like Moses, Gideon, and Samuel. But they weren't kings. They simply followed the commands of Israel’s true king, God. But God’s people were no longer happy with a God-king that they couldn't see; they wanted a human king they could see. Because the Israelites wanted to be like the nations around them, they rejected the protection of the Lord.
+ How did Samuel feel when the people asked for a king? (vs. 6)
+ What did God tell Samuel to explain to the people? (vs. 9)
1 SAMUEL 8:10-20, NIrV
10 Samuel told the people who were asking him for a king everything the Lord had said. 11 Samuel told them, “Here’s what the king who rules over you will expect to be done for him. He will take your sons. He’ll make them serve with his chariots and horses. They will run in front of his chariots. 12 He’ll choose some of your sons to be commanders of thousands of men. Some will be commanders of fifties. Others will have to plow his fields and gather his crops. Still others will have to make weapons of war and parts for his chariots. 13 He’ll also take your daughters. Some will have to make perfume. Others will be forced to cook and bake. 14 He will take away your best fields and vineyards and olive groves. He’ll give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and a tenth of your grapes. He’ll give it to his officials and attendants. 16 He will also take your male and female servants. He’ll take your best cattle and donkeys. He’ll use all of them any way he wants to. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep and goats. You yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that time comes, you will cry out for help because of the king you have chosen. But the Lord won’t answer you at that time.”
19 In spite of what Samuel said, the people refused to listen to him. “No!” they said. “We want a king to rule over us. 20 Then we’ll be like all the other nations. We’ll have a king to lead us. He’ll go out at the head of our armies and fight our battles.”
The Lord gave Samuel a message to deliver to his people. God wanted the Israelites to know exactly what a monstrous mistake they were about to make. A human king would have the power to do whatever they want. He would make the men fight his battles. He would force the women to be his servants. He would take away their food, fields, and animals and keep them all for himself. And if he felt like it, he could turn anyone he wanted into his slave! Despite this warning, the people still thought, "Who cares? Give us a king anyway!" So God let the people have their own foolish way.
+ What did God say he'd do if the people cried out for rescue from their king? (vs. 18)
+ What two reasons did the people give for wanting a king? (vs. 20)
1 SAMUEL 9:1-10, NIrV
1 There was a man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. Kish was a very important person. He was the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror. Zeror was the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 Kish had a son named Saul. Saul was a handsome young man. He was more handsome than anyone in Israel. And he was a head taller than anyone else.
3 The donkeys that belonged to Saul’s father Kish were lost. So Kish spoke to his son Saul. He said, “Go and look for the donkeys. Take one of the servants with you.” 4 Saul and his servant went through the hill country of Ephraim. They also went through the area around Shalisha. But they didn’t find the donkeys. So they went on into the area of Shaalim. But the donkeys weren’t there either. Then Saul went through the territory of Benjamin. But they still didn’t find the donkeys.
5 When Saul and the servant with him reached the area of Zuph, Saul spoke to the servant. He said, “Come on. Let’s go back. If we don’t, my father will stop thinking about the donkeys. Instead, he’ll start worrying about us.”
6 But the servant replied, “There’s a man of God here in Ramah. People have a lot of respect for him. Everything he says comes true. So let’s go and see him now. Perhaps he’ll tell us which way to go.”
7 Saul said to his servant, “If we go to see the man, what can we give him? There isn’t any food in our sacks. We don’t have a gift for the man of God. So what can we give him?”
8 The servant answered Saul again. “Look,” he said. “I’ve got a tenth of an ounce of silver. I’ll give it to the man of God. Then maybe he’ll tell us which way to go.” 9 In Israel, prophets used to be called seers. So if someone wanted to ask God for advice, they would say, “Come on. Let’s go to the seer.”
10 Saul said to his servant, “That’s a good idea. Come on. Let’s go and ask the seer.” So they started out for the town where the man of God lived.
It’s not always a good thing to get what you want. The people foolishly asked for a human king and God decided to give them one. Finding the right man was Samuel’s job, but he didn’t have to go out looking for him. Instead, God guided the man right to Samuel! His name was Saul and he was on a search of his own. Instead of searching for a king, he was tracking down his dad’s lost donkeys! After days of searching, Saul was ready to give up. But his servant thought, “I bet Samuel the prophet knows where they are!” God used these lost donkeys to lead Israel’s first king right to Samuel’s door!
+ What two things did we learn about how Saul looked? (vs. 2)
+ What word did they use for prophets in Saul’s day? (vs. 9)
1 SAMUEL 9:15-21, NIRV
15 The Lord had spoken to Samuel the day before Saul came. He had said, 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man. He is from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him to be the king of my people Israel. He will save them from the power of the Philistines. I have seen how much my people are suffering. Their cry for help has reached me.”
17 When Samuel saw a man coming toward him, the Lord spoke to Samuel again. He said, “He is the man I told you about. His name is Saul. He will govern my people.”
18 Saul approached Samuel at the gate of the town. He asked Samuel, “Can you please show me the seer’s house?”
19 “I’m the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go on up to the high place ahead of me. I want you and your servant to eat with me today. Tomorrow morning I’ll tell you what’s on your mind. Then I’ll send you on your way. 20 Don’t worry about the donkeys you lost three days ago. They’ve already been found. But who do all the Israelites want? You and your father’s whole family!”
21 Saul answered, “But I’m from the tribe of Benjamin. It’s the smallest tribe in Israel. And my family group is the least important in the whole tribe of Benjamin. So why are you saying that to me?”
Finding a king wasn’t hard for Samuel. First, God led Saul right to his door as Saul searched for lost donkeys. Second, God spoke to Samuel the day before Saul showed up: “A guy will come this time tomorrow. I’ve chosen him to be king.” And third, when Samuel first saw Saul, God said, “That’s him!” So before Saul could even ask about his lost donkeys, Samuel said, “You’re out looking for donkeys, but the whole country of Israel and looking for you!” Saul didn’t understand. He was an unimportant guy from the unimportant tribe of Benjamin. He didn’t known that soon he’d become king!
+ How did God know that Saul would come to Samuel’s house the next day?
+ What did God tell Samuel that Saul would do for his people? (vs. 16)
1 SAMUEL 10:1-9, 14-16, NIRV
1 Then Samuel took a bottle of olive oil. He poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him. He said, “The Lord has anointed you to be the king of his people. 2 When you leave me today, you will meet two men. They will be near Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They’ll say to you, ‘The donkeys you have been looking for have been found. Now your father has stopped thinking about them. Instead, he’s worried about you. He’s asking, “What can I do to find my son?” ’
3 “You will go on from Zelzah until you come to the large tree at Tabor. Three men will meet you there. They’ll be on their way up to Bethel to worship God. One of them will be carrying three young goats. Another will be carrying three loaves of bread. A third will be carrying a bottle of wine. It will be a bottle made out of animal skin. 4 The men will greet you. They’ll offer you two loaves of bread. You will accept the loaves from them.
5 “After that, you will go to Gibeah of God. Some Philistine soldiers are stationed there. As you approach the town, you will meet a group of prophets. They’ll be coming down from the high place where they worship. People will be playing lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps at the head of the group. The prophets will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully on you. Then you will prophesy along with them. You will become a different person. 7 All these things will happen. Then do what you want to do. God is with you.
8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. You can be sure that I’ll come down to you there. I’ll come and sacrifice burnt offerings and friendship offerings. But you must wait there for seven days until I come to you. Then I’ll tell you what to do.”
9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart. All these things happened that day.
14 Later, Saul’s uncle spoke to him and his servant. He asked, “Where have you been?”
“Looking for the donkeys,” Saul said. “But we couldn’t find them. So we went to Samuel.”
15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”
16 Saul replied, “He told us the donkeys had been found.” But Saul didn’t tell his uncle that Samuel had said he would become king.
Normally, it’s rude to pour olive oil on someone’s head. But in the Bible, it was how they anointed someone. To “anoint” means to choose a person for a special job. God chose Saul for the job of king, so Samuel poured olive oil on his head. Samuel told Saul he had two kingly jobs: to rule over his people and defeat their enemies. In case Saul was worried that Samuel had anointed the wrong guy, Samuel told Saul to look for some signs from God: he’d meet certain people who would say and do certain things. And all these signs came true! Even more, God’s own Spirit came to live with Saul.
+ Samuel anointed Saul. What does that mean? What job was he anointed to do? (vs. 2)
+ What two things would happen to Saul when God’s Spirit rushed onto him? (vs. 6)
1 SAMUEL 10:17-25, NIRV
17 Samuel sent a message to the Israelites. He told them to meet with the Lord at Mizpah. 18 He said to them, “The Lord is the God of Israel. He says, ‘Israel, I brought you up out of Egypt. I saved you from their power. I also saved you from the power of all the kingdoms that had treated you badly.’ 19 But now you have turned your backs on your God. He saves you out of all your trouble and suffering. In spite of that, you have said, ‘We refuse to listen. Place a king over us.’ So now gather together to meet with the Lord. Do it tribe by tribe and family group by family group.”
20 Then Samuel had each tribe of Israel come forward. The tribe of Benjamin was chosen by casting lots. 21 Next he had the tribe of Benjamin come forward, family group by family group. Matri’s group was chosen. Finally Saul, the son of Kish, was chosen. But when people looked for him, they realized he wasn’t there. 22 They needed more help from the Lord. So they asked him, “Has the man come here yet?”
The Lord said, “Yes. He has hidden himself among the supplies.”
23 So they ran over there and brought him out. When he stood up, the people saw that he was a head taller than any of them. 24 Samuel spoke to all the people. He said, “Look at the man the Lord has chosen! There isn’t anyone like him among all the people.”
Then the people shouted, “May the king live a long time!”
25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of the king who ruled over them. He wrote them down in a book. He placed it in front of the Lord in the holy tent. Then he sent the people away. He sent each of them to their own homes.
When Samuel anointed Saul to be king, he did it in secret. Even Saul's own father didn't know that his son had been chosen for such an important job . So Samuel gathered all the Israelites together to show them the made God had chosen. But first, he reminded the people that they’d made a big mistake asking for a king. They were turning their backs on God, who had always rescued them from the messes they'd made.
To show the people that God, not Samuel, would be the one to choose Israel's king, Samuel did something special. It was called "casting lots." To cast lots is a lot like rolling dice or flipping a coin. They were things you’d throw, then watch what happens.
By casting lots, God showed the people exactly who he had chosen as king. When the lots were cast over and over again, Saul was the one chosen. But when they went to make him king, Saul was nowhere to be found. Actually, he was hiding among boxes and bags of supplies! That doesn't seem like something a brave king would do!
Now, we don't read stories like Saul becoming king because they’re fun or interesting. All of the Bible is designed to point us to our savior, Jesus. That includes the story we’ve read this week. For instance, Saul was anointed with oil by Samuel to show that God had chosen him to be king. So what does that have to do with Jesus?
Sometimes in the Bible, Jesus is called “Jesus Christ.” Christ wasn’t Jesus’ last name. Christ is a word from the Greek language that means “anointed one.” So “Jesus Christ” means “Jesus the Anointed One.” If you remember, to be anointed means to be chosen for a special job. Do you remember what special job Jesus was “anointed” to do?
In Matthew 1:21, an angel spoke to Jesus’ earthly dad in a dream. He told Joseph what Jesus would grow up to do: “Jesus will save his people from their sins.” Jesus Christ was the anointed one with the special job of saving God’s people from their sins. He did that by dying on a cross. That’s how he paid our punishment of death and saved us all. And as you probably already know, he rose back to life on the third day.
Saul was the first king of Israel. There were many more kings after him. And most of them were terrible! I’m sure the people of Israel realized what a horrible mistake they made asking for a human king. Thankfully, though, the story doesn’t end there. The Bible tells us that Jesus will one day come back to earth. This time, he isn’t coming to die and save us from our sins. Instead, he’s coming to rule the world as king. And for those of us who believe in him, we’ll live in his perfect kingdom forever!
+ Where did the people find Saul? (vs. 22)
+ Is “Christ” Jesus’ last name? What does “Christ” mean?