- Hebrews 2:5-18
- 1Samuel 9:15-10:1
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
There are times when I am so disappointed in myself that I abhor myself. I then wonder why God still puts up with me. Why would He still bother? Why still give room for Australia to live, to enjoy what we have, to plan for a future and to see prosperity? We kick against his laws, the the more we call ourselves a progressive democracy, the more we push God aside. Yet, we still see the sun rise, the beauty of every morning, we have enough and more to eat, and we breathe fresh air.
Why does God still bother?
God cares—and appointed a prince
I have seen the affliction of My people, for their cry has come to Me. (1 Samuel 9:16, HCSB)
Even when his own people acted worse than the godless nations who lived in the Promised Land before God had them settle there, God still bothered. They openly rejected Him and despised their identity as Gods own inheritance by demanding a king so that they can be like the other nations. God granted their demand—and yet, He did not reject them as his people. He spoke to Samuel:
At this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over My people Israel. He will save them from the hand of the Philistines… (1 Samuel 9:16, HCSB)
They rejected God; He did not reject them and still called them “My people”. He still cared for them.
We have to follow the wonderful way in which God controlled everything.
A certain man, Kish, had a son. He was of no royal line, just well-to-do a farmer who had a son. He was from the tribe of Benjamin. Now you will remember that about this whole tribe was wiped out because of a civil war after the death of an innocent women. O, as far as the background of Kish and his son Saul is concerned, there is nothing to report.
God put it the mind of the donkeys to go walk-about, and Kish sent Saul to look for them. Almost completely unimportant to us was the fact the Saul took a young man along—we don’t even know his name.
They couldn’t find the donkeys. After two days Saul wanted to go home. After all, there were many valleys and high mountains in Ephraim with wild animals lurking.
This off-sider of Saul then makes mention of The Seer, Samuel, of whom Saul apparently had not known a thing. And it happened that the young fellow had a coin in his pocket to give to the seer.
This is where things are getting very interesting. While Saul and the young man were looking for the donkeys, God whispered in the ear of Samuel (that’s how one can interpret the word):
“At this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over My people Israel.”
This verse echoes the words of Exodus 3:7-8 when God called Moses to lead the people to freedom:
I have observed the misery of My people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors, and I know about their sufferings. I have come … to bring them … to a good and spacious land … (Exodus 3:7–8, HCSB)
And of course, years later in the fullness of time we heard these words again when the birth of the Messiah was announced:
She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21, HCSB)
God’s appointed time and place
God is in control. The people wanted a king, but God would appoint the man in his own time, in the place He wanted, the occasion He determined, and the setting against which the future prince would hear about it.
The purpose of the new prince was to free God’s people from Philistine oppression. A further purpose was that he would restrain God’s people. With this we have to understand that the days when everyone “did as they saw fit”, have now come to and end.
With expectation the Samuel arranged for a special sacrifice. He invited special guests, he arranged for a special animal to be slaughtered, he even arranged the seating at the table. Among these guests was most probably a man by the name Abner, the uncle of Saul. While waiting for Samuel to arrive one can only assume that the conversation between the invited guests centred around the appointment of a king.
We continue with the day’s events. It was by God’s eternal appointment that young women were on their way to the well to draw the household water. They knew about the special meeting Samuel was arranging, and therefore could point Saul and his off-sider to Samuel. The inclusion of the word “immediately” gives us the indication that all concerned just arrived at God’s appointed time.
It was at that stage that God once again spoke to Samuel. “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you.”
The people asked for a king, but God gave them a prince. The people would not belong to the new leader; they are still God’s own.
At the God-appointed time Samuel and the future prince met. Saul got an invitation to eat with Samuel and the special guests, who were waiting for the prophet/priest to bless the sacrifice. The prince met the King at a sacrifice!
Just as a word in passing Samuel set his mind at rest: the donkeys were found.
Saul surely didn’t understand the words of Samuel who said something about someone all Israel was desiring. Surely it had nothing to do with him, he was just a nobody from a clan no one knows anything about, and on top of that, he was a Benjaminite?
Once in the hall with the invited guests, he received a place at the head. Surely, he must have felt out of place. Now for that special portion of the offering, bring it for the future prince! The appointed hour had come!
It was late and Saul was offered a bed on the roof of Samuel’s house. Early the next day Samuel had to inform Saul of God’s plan. This handsome young man, probably only in his early thirties, standing head and shoulders above his fellow Israelite, had to hear that God appointed him as prince. Samuel had the off-sider sent ahead, and then he anointed Saul—a loaded term, because in it was hidden something of “messiah”. In true form, Samuel would have embraced Saul, and then, perhaps bowing, he kissed him—perhaps on his hand. He added these words for clarification:
- The Lord anointed you; you’re not the peoples prince
- He is still king, you are a prince/leader
- The people belong to God
Inside of Saul there would have been turmoil. How could all this be true. God provided specific signs:
- He would meet men telling him that the donkeys were found—his mind would from now on be on bigger things than matter of his own family;
- Then, three men with goats, bread and wine will meet him—God would from now on provide for his daily needs;
- From there he will meet a band of prophets with musical instruments, proclaiming the greatness of God—he would join them singing as the Spirit of God would enable him to from now on focus on the business of God and his people;
- The people would see and hear him with the prophets, as a sign to them that God set him apart for his service. 1 Chronicle 25:1 helps us to understand:
David and the officers of the army also set apart some … who were to prophesy accompanied by lyres, harps, and cymbals. (1 Chronicles 25:1, HCSB)
This “prophesying” was simply then to proclaim the greatness of God in music and song, and should not be confuse with the speaking in tongues. It of course has a lot to bear on what we sing in church!
Saul left Samuel a changed man. As a confirmation to Saul that God indeed called him, everything happened just as Samuel said. He then returned to the place where he sacrificed with Samuel. He met his uncle, Abner, who must have been still there. Perhaps he was a but shy, or even humble, to tell the full event of matters to Abner, who would later become his military commander.
The new prince and victory
The next chapter in this story takes us to Mizpah where Saul was introduced and confirmed as God’s choice as their leader—the one they asked for.
He repeated God’s stipulations for a king, most probably recorded in Deuteronomy 17:14-20
- He had to be God’s choice
- He had to be an Israelite
- He had to rely on God for military strength, not horses
- He must not have many wives, especially not wives worshipping other gods
- He must not chase after riches
- He had to study the law of God daily, live accordingly and set and example to the people
All these terms were agreed to, and Samuel took a copy. “Long live the king!”, the people shouted.
Chapter 11 records to first victory of the Israelites over the enemy under the leadership of Saul.
In all of this we clearly see the intervention of God
Long live the King!
He cared for his people, He did not abandon them, He prepared what was best for them.
But Saul, as we will see in future, Saul failed miserably—and in the end he fell on his sword, greatly confused, mentally disturbed, devoured by resentment and hatred of David, even possessed by an evil spirit.
And God did not give up on this sinful world:
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, HCSB)
He was God’s chosen One. Listen:
You are My Son; today I have become Your Father. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession. (Psalm 2:7–8, HCSB)
Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the sceptre of Your kingdom is a sceptre of justice. (Hebrews 1:8, HCSB)
Where Saul and all others after Him failed, the real Prince of Peace succeeded. Of his kingdom there will be an increase, the Bible says. His Name is Jesus, the Messiah (the Anointed One), the Son of God. He was born as an Israelite according to the line of David—He was the stump of Jesse Isaiah prophesied about:
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him — a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2, HCSB)
His Kingdom is not of this world, so He didn’t need horse and chariots to establish it. He never chased after riches (the foxes had holes, but the Son of Man had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). He did more than read the Law of God—He fulfilled it! He never sinned, but He took the sin of those who disobeyed the Law as if it was his own.
Every word spoken of Him through the prophets came true as God’s affirmation the Christ is indeed his Son: his birthplace, where He would minster, how He would die, and even where He would be buried. God’s voice from heaven declared Him at the beginning and end of Christ’s earthly ministry:
And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:32–33, HCSB; [see also 12:27-28])
Do we still need more evidence? The Holy Spirit testifies about Christ:
When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you. (John 16:13–15, HCSB)
This King will come in glory to take home with Him those who love Him waited faithfully for his return. He must be your king now if you want to see Him as King then.
I trust you will be amongst them. Amen.
Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on 13 August 2017