By Teena Myers
The United Monarchy Rejected Part 3/9
Samuel called a meeting of the elders and described how the king would reign. He will draft their sons to serve in his army, make weapons of war, plow his fields, and gather his harvest. Their daughters will clean his house and cook his food. He will take the best of their fields, vineyards and olive groves and give them to those he favored. He will take a tenth of everything they own. They will be miserable and cry for relief from their self-serving king, but God will not answer. The leaders of Israel chose to reject the king who loved and protected them for a king who would use them as servants to enrich himself.
Two years later, Saul’s father sent him to find his lost asses. Saul and his servant searched for three days. He became concerned his father would be worried about him and told his servant they should go home. The servant suggested they first visit Samuel, to “tell us about our journey on which we have set out.”[i] While they traveled to the city, God told Samuel the man he chose to be Israel’s king was on the way.
Saul’s chance encounter with Samuel exposed the truth about Saul’s journey to find lost asses. God had sent him to become king of his lost asses, who had refused his wisdom. Samuel honored Saul at a large dinner party. Then Saul went to Samuel’s home, and they talked into the evening. Early the next morning, Samuel awoke Saul to send him on his way, and give him a message from God. He anointed Saul with oil and gave him three signs to confirm God had chosen him to be Israel’s king. When he came to Rachel’s tomb in Benjamin, two men would tell him they had found the asses and his father was worried about him. At the Oak of Tabor, three men on their way to worship God will greet him and give him two loaves of bread. After he passes the hill of God and garrison of the Philistines, a group of prophets would meet him when he entered the city. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon him, he will prophesy with the prophets, and “be changed into a different man.”[ii] The fulfillment of the signs confirmed to Saul that Samuel spoke the truth.
When Samuel called the elders to Gilgal to anoint Saul King, he reminded them God had never failed them. God rescued them from every kingdom that oppressed them. God saved them from all their catastrophes and distresses, yet they had rejected him for a fallible human king. To reinforce and confirm their folly, Samuel told Israel the truth when he said, “your wickedness is great”[iii] Then God answered Samuel’s prayer for rain during the wheat harvest.
The sudden appearance of a thunderstorm, during a time it rarely rained in Israel, struck fear in the elders’ hearts of the Lord and Samuel.[iv] They admitted they sinned when they asked for a king and asked Samuel to pray they would not die. Samuel encouraged them to continue seeking God and serve him. God will not abandon his chosen people, even when they sin, if they strive to serve him.
A kingdom built on the shifting sands of human desire that rejects God’s wisdom will fail. Two years later, God rejected Saul. Saul let fear motivate him to perform the office of a priest, instead of waiting for Samuel’s arrival. Samuel informed Saul, a man after God’s own heart would replace him, because he did not do what the Lord commanded him.[v] Samuel spoke those words seven years before David was born. When David was five years old, God rejected Saul a second time for failing to destroy the Amalekites. Again, Samuel told Saul God would take the kingdom from him and give it to another. Samuel never came to see Saul again.
[i] 1 Samuel 9:6
[ii] 1 Samuel 10:6
[iii] 1 Samuel 12:17-18
[iv] 1 Samuel 12:17. Is it not wheat-harvest to-day? — At which time it was a rare thing in those parts to have thunder or rain; the weather being more constant in its seasons than it is with us, and the rain being wont to fall periodically, only in the autumn and the spring, called the former and latter rain. He shall send thunder and rain — That you may understand that God is displeased with you, and see how foolishly and wickedly you have acted, in rejecting the government of that God at whose command are all things, both in heaven and in earth. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_samuel/12-17.htm Benson Commentary.
[v] 1 Samuel 13:14