These sections of I Samuel present to us the life of Saul, his lineage, choosing, and final exaltation (9:1-2, 15-10:1-27). This timid, tall, dark and handsome Benjamite fellow was God’s choice for ruling the people (9:21).
His looks or lack of courage could not stay God’s hand of power to change Saul into a useful vessel, when the Spirit of the LORD came upon him (10:5-6, 17-11:7). When God moved in this man’s life, his frailties were turned into strength. Not only did Saul prophecy (an activity normally reserved solely for prophets), but when the time required, his timidity turned into ferocity.
In Scripture, God delights to take our weaknesses and demonstrate his power in and through them so that we will learn to rely on his power and not our own strength. This strength comes from fearing the LORD, a message Israel’s forefathers heard and mostly disobeyed, and now the king is being reminded of:
“If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” (12:14-15)
God loves his people and in the covenant, loyalty is central to flourishing. When disloyalty occurs, it’s called adultery (I.e., spiritual), for it involves going after and worshipping the futile false gods of the surrounding nations (12:16-22, 24-25), rather than the LORD of creation.
By asking for a king Israel sinned (this act was evil in the LORD’s sight because rather than being ruled by Him, they preferred to be ruled by mere man in order to be like the surrounding nations 12:20), yet Samuel the prophet still encouraged the people to repent and to serve the LORD with all their heart (12:20-21). What we worship rules us; what/who we obey becomes our master. The apostle Paul said that people are either, slaves of God or to sin, the former bringing life, the latter ending in death (Rom.6).
Nevertheless, even though Israel is weak God still promises not to abandon His people not on account of their value (even though they are precious image bearers), but because of God’s great name whose pleasure it is to make Israel His own:
“For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” (12:22)
I’m overwhelmed with how I can relate to Israel in their penchant bent to go astray. The word then as is now, is the LORD’s! It is our life, and to despise it is to embrace death. Jesus summoned up the matter:
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Jn.17:3)
All of the Old Testament narratives and prophetic messages culminate in John’s text for the purpose of God’s design from eternity past was to have a people for Himself to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph.1:1-14). Thus, to reject God as the only true God is akin to rejecting His kingship over us also. It is only through His Spirit indwelling us that we gladly welcome His reign into our lives.
My heart is both burdened and gladdened. It rejoices to see youngsters make professions of commitment to Christ Jesus the Lord by becoming church members and publicly declaring to live in community under the King’s rulership. Yet, there’s much sorrow when I see other youngsters leaning toward the kingdom of heaven but choosing to stray away from it. This grief calls for weeping accompanied by intercessory prayer. This was Samuel’s attitude and must be ours:
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.24 Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.” (12:23-25)
Not only should we continue to pray for those going astray, but we must also instruct them in the ways of the LORD lest they continue to go astray and die in their rebellion.
In the home husbands and wives need to come together and intercede on behalf of their straying children, continuously instructing even the most recalcitrant child, understanding that this can only be accomplished through God’s power and wisdom. If we cease to pray for those who have gone astray (or are lost), we give God a vote of no confidence. In essence, we indict God of not being faithful to care for broken lost people but we know that the cross of Christ puts that lie forever to rest.
LORD, teach us to submit to your Kingship in word and deed, remind us that in our weakness your power is made perfect, and keep our hearts receptive to your ways when ours want to rule.