The selection of King Saul as ruler over Israel was not what God intended. However, the people wanted to have a king, just like the nations around them did. Steph Nickel reminds us that the world’s influence is not always the best.
First Samuel 8:18-20 (ESV) says,
“In that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’ But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, ‘No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’”
The Lord appointed judges to guide His people, but they weren’t satisfied. They wanted a king to rule over them. They wanted to be like other nations.
And sometimes when we ask for something—even something the Lord has chosen not to give us up to that point—God gives it to us despite the fact that there will be consequences.
Not only did the people demand a king, they also used the world’s standards to choose their ruler. First Samuel 9:2 says Saul was “a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”
God did not shake His head, wash His hands of the situation, and walk away. That’s not how He works.
When the prophet Samuel first met Saul, the future king was looking for his father’s donkeys that had gone missing. He and his servant went to ask Samuel where they should go next. But God’s message to Saul was not at all what he expected.
The Shepherd King, David
Further, let’s think about the Shepherd King, David. God made His choice and saw to it that this young man was named the future king despite the fact that no one else gave him a second thought, not even his father. After all, he was the youngest. In Bible times, no one would consider the baby of the family for such an honour. In fact, if it was anyone but the eldest, it would be a surprise to everyone.
But as the prophet Isaiah said, “God’s ways are not our ways.”
The people encountered many difficulties and heartaches because they insisted on having a king like the other nations, a king that impressed them although he didn’t impress God. Yet, the Lord didn’t not give up on them.
Even King David was far from perfect. In fact, he was an adulterer and a murderer. And yet, it says in Acts 13:22 that he was a man after God’s heart. Unbelievable! This has been the topic of many discussions and much theological study. Even though we don’t have all the answers, one thing we do know: David had a tender heart. When his sinfulness was pointed out to him, he was devastated and he repented.
Although appointing a king over the people was not God’s desire, He didn’t step back and let them handle the process on their own. He played an active role. The Lord also saw to it that these stories were preserved down through the centuries so we could continue to learn from them.
Lessons For Us
What lessons can we learn—and teach our families?
- God’s plans are always best.
- Going along with the crowd can seem like a good idea, but usually it isn’t. The vast majority of people either don’t believe God even exists or if He does, they still want to do things their own way.
- We can find out God’s will in the pages of Scripture.
- Our prayers should be guided by the discoveries we make in God’s Word.
- When our prayers are not as they should be, God may still choose to answer them.
- If we insist on doing things our way instead of God’s, there will be consequences.
- God promises in Hebrews 13:5 never to leave or forsake His children.
- The Lord continues to be actively involved in our lives even when we insist on doing things our own way.
- As I’ve so often found in my own life, when we acknowledge that His ways are best and surrender again to the Lord, we find He is there, ready to forgive us and strengthen us to do better in the future.
- The fact that God loves us and is actively involved in our lives even when we want to do things our own way should not be an excuse for pushing ahead and insisting on doing what we feel is best. No matter how it looks from our perspective, God’s way is always the best way.
- Being human we sometimes forget that. While there are consequences for doing things our own way, we can rejoice that God is willing to forgive us and will walk with us—even when we have to face the consequences of our bad decisions.
- There are countless times He shows us His mercy and grace and we do not experience the full extent of those consequences.
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Images courtesy of:
King Saul and David – Charles Foster
KIng David – Maggiore