Read 1 Samuel 8:1-5
Here is Samuel growing old and unfit for service. He is a good man for sure and has been a good man for Israel. But just as the flowers fade, we will all age and must make room for new flowers.
Sadly, his sons are a poor replacements as judges. They are neither honest nor just. Samuel was a man who said what needed to be said to anyone, so we know he wasn't afraid to correct his children. 1 Samuel 3:18 Samuel was a man of the Word. We have no reason to question his character as a parent.
Here is a universal truth:
You can be a picture-perfect Christian parent and still have a kid
who goes off the rails.
Billy Graham, Jim Cymbala, Chuck Smith and and John Piper are few examples that come to mind.
Many take Proverbs 22:6 to be an iron-clad promise that they can raise a child into a Christian seamlessly. I believe it is something we can work for, pray for and hope for, to be sure! But the rest of the Bible shows something much scrappier and diverse. Not only does this verse about good Samuel give us pause to think, but we will also see that the kings of Israel beyond Saul and David are made up of good kings who have some bad kids and and some bad kings who have some 'good' children.
In real life, bad doesn't always produce bad kids and good doesn't always produce good kids.
Listen to what the Lord says of His own child rearing:
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me;” (Isaiah 1:2, NKJV)
Here is the bottom line: our children have to come to the Lord under the dealings of God with them. We should not hinder Him in His dealings with them by making excuses or provision for them when they are wayward. We should pray for them, rebuke them, but most of all, we should release them to the Lord.
John Piper's son would later say of his conversion:
"My dad’s view of and relationship with God is so big and so powerful that it looked like the only way to come to God. But it didn’t work for me. It wasn’t until I was out of college and things kind of fell apart for me that I encountered God’s grace and the person of Jesus in a profound way on my own."
I wrote to couple of parents with a messed up son a couple of weeks ago to encourage them:
"Don’t let “failures” with our children handicap us in discouragement. It happens. I can find nowhere where we raise kids without problems and sin-related tip-overs. We don’t raise “good" kids, we raise kids who know they need the gospel. We teach right from wrong and show them Jesus. We let law (right/wrong) work as a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ. Galatians 3:24
See Christ here: We must build our lives on the gospel and not our parenting success or failure. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parents need the Gospel of Jesus Christ for grace, mercy and redemption. Likewise, children, teenagers and adult children need the grace, mercy and redemption of Jesus Christ. Christ came into the world to save parents from their sins and to save children from their sins. The jewel of all the parables of Christ is the one of the Prodigal Son.
Sons still get lost and lost sons still come home.
Read 1 Samuel 8:6-22
Here is the story of the people asking for a king. It really is the same story as the quail in Exodus: people crying for something they don't need. Exodus 16
Aging Samuel took a personal hit on their request. It certainly seemed to be a vote against him. The Lord speaks to him and essentially tells him, "Its not vote against you. It's a vote against me (7)." Back in the day, God's people began to hate the manna and begged for meat. Christ said that he was the manna from heaven. John 6:41-43 The people lost their devotion to Christ. They had quit enjoying the Lord. And when you quit enjoying the Lord you can no longer sing:
"Christ is enough for me.
Everything I need is in you."
The Lord tells Samuel that it is the same now.
“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.” (1 Samuel 8:8, NKJV)
The way they were treating Samuel was the way they were treating God--"We want something better." There is nothing or no one better than the Lord.
Like dissatisfied children, they want what the other children have: "Make us a king to judge us like all the (other) nations." The Lord will do what he did with the quail, He will give them what they want and they will be the losers for it! The quail made them sick. The king will make them wish they never had him too. "He will take...will take...will take...will take and you will cry."
“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.”” (1 Samuel 8:18, NKJV)
When you want something else or someone else more than the Lord, it is an idol. That idol is going to hurt you more than you can imagine.
John as the old Apostle wrote to his children in the Lord, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21, ESV) He had seen what happens when little children want what other children want.
See Christ here: He was rejected by the people of the Gergesenes for something they thought was better. Though he rescued two of her sons, they loved their pigs more. Matthew 8:34 He was rejected in Nazareth and tried to throw him off a cliff. Luke 4:29 The chief priests, the rulers and crowd rejected him on the day of his trial. "Give us Barrabas", they said. Luke 23:18 The whole Jewish nation, like the brothers of Joseph, rejected him entirely. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." John 1:11,
Christ fulfilled the words of Isaiah 53
“He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3–5, NKJV)
Read 1 Samuel 9
The King whom Samuel will appoint will start well but end very poorly. Here we meet Saul.
Saul had an imminent father who was known as a mighty man of power. Saul, both handsome and tall, had an outward appearance that brought him the esteem of men. He just looked like what a king should look like!
But outward appearances
do not good men make.
Later, when Saul fails as a king, Samuel will find a better replacement with David who who will turn out to be a great king. Even Samuel will almost miss choosing him because he will be distracted by the outstanding appearance of David's elder brother, Eliab. "Surely the Lord's anointed stands before me."
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.””
(1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV)
See Christ here: He didn't outwardly look the part of Messiah and King. The prophet Isaiah tells us something of his appearance.
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)
He didn't have a royal "look" even though He was royalty. The world is drawn to successful faces who ride on the popularity of people. Jesus never had the first and he briefly had the second until the tide of men's opinion changed against Him.
Yet Christ was all Messiah and all King all the time.
He never carried an official position and he always walked on foot like a common man living and loving the common man.
“Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves.” (Ecclesiastes 10:6–7, TNIV)
Read 1 Samuel 10:1-16
As we have noted, Saul had many external qualities that suited him for the esteem of men. He had a powerful pedigree. He was singularly handsome and he was taller than anyone by head and shoulders.
Now we see some marks and behaviors that are very promising for Saul:
He is divinely appointed: “Then Samuel took a bottle of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?” (1 Samuel 10:1, TNIV)
He is a "different man".
“The Spirit of the Lord will come on you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” (1 Samuel 10:6)
He declares the Word with other prophets.
“When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came on him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.” (1 Samuel 10:10, TNIV)
Saul will lead a great military campaign for God's Kingdom in chapter 11.
But within two years, Saul will fall apart. He will not continue in faith and good practice and so he will not continue as king. “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”” (1 Samuel 13:14, NKJV)
See Christ here: Jesus had many who started with him but did not finish with Him.
"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66)
The idea of defecting disciples boggles the mind, but it is all to common. Many taste and see that the Lord is good, but they are like Costco shoppers who take the sample but will not pay the price. Saul started well but he will not continue in the Word and so not abide in Christ. After Jesus had many defecting disciples from the large crowds, He said to the Jews who believed in Him:
“If you abide in My word, you are trulyMy disciples. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”” (John 8:31–32, NKJV)
The evidence of genuine faith is continuing in his Word. That is what makes you TRULY His disciple. The real deal perseveres until the end. Matthew 10:22
Read 1 Samuel 10:17-27
Saul’s nomination will be confirmed not only by the anointing of Samuel, but by every tribe in Israel. Samuel purposefully gathers all the clans together for a solemn assembly before the Lord.
First, he rebukes them for rejecting the Lord and wanting a king. He reminds them of all the Lord had done in their history to free them and carry them to the Promised Land.
How could a man, even a mighty man, do for them what the Lord has done?
In wanting a king to save them, he tells them in no uncertain terms, “Today, you have rejected the Lord.” However, the Lord will work through, even their stubbornness, to His own end. Now the king system will replace the judge/prophet era.
No man will be able to rise to the perfect role as King, save one: Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
Samuel then draws lots on every tribe, then to every family and finally to the individual that the lot fell upon, in this case, Saul. In this way, no politics are involved; instead the hand of the Lord is revealed.
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33, ESV)
When the lot falls to Saul, unfortunately, Saul is nowhere to be found. Some would think he is greatly humble not wanting to be a king. Maybe.It is more obvious that Saul is disobedient and unwilling to trust the Lord to go forward. He has been called and anointed by Samuel before today's events and now the lot is cast and it falls on him. Yet, where is he? Hiding.
“So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”” (1 Samuel 10:22, ESV)
His lack of trust in the Lord will become more apparent as the story goes on. It will finally be his undoing. Friends, without faith, it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6
See Christ here: When the people rejected the Lord for a man, they were saying, “We would rather live by sense than by faith. We would rather lean on the arm of flesh instead of the arm of the Lord.”
Jeremiah said, “They have forsaken Me, the fount of living waters and made for themselves broken cisterns…says the Lord.” Jeremiah 2:13
This event in Samuel is a pre-look at when Israel rejected Christ that He should not reign over them.
“They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”” (John 19:15, ESV)