So You Wanted a King, Did You? :: by Gene Lawley

In Israeli history, in the days of Judges, the people came to Samuel, the prophet, complaining that they had no king like the other nations had, and demanding that he get one for them (1 Samuel 8:4-9):

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.’

“But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.’”

And here is what they got (1 Samuel 9:1-2):

“There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose namewas Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”

Saul’s father learned that his donkeys had gotten out and were lost, so he sent Saul and a servant to look for them. Their search led them to where Samuel lived, and there, as the story unfolds, Saul was anointed king of Israel by Samuel.

Some interesting background details are not mentioned in this account, the inference the Lord makes in His discussion with Samuel as He gives the latter advanced notice of Saul’s coming and His choice for Saul to be Israel’s first human king—the people did not want the Lord to reign over them. God tells Samuel to let the people know what this king will do to them:

“And he [Samuel] said, ‘This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.

“He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties,will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

“He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants.

“He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work.

“He will take a tenth of your sheep, and you will be his servants. 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 8:11-18).

In short, he says, “You will be his slaves in every meaning of the word!” But the people had their minds made up; their fleshly wisdom was crying out for dominance, and they relented:

“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘No, but we will have 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’” (1 Samuel 8:19-20).

It brings to mind what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, years later:

“Therefore, ‘Come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord.Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.
I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

That entire scenario shows a characteristic of the Lord toward those who have accepted His salvation, even, yet really do not want Him to have a part in their lives. The Lord does not intrude, noticeably, into the lives of such unresponsive believers. Look at how His attitude is expressed in this passage:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

Among all His godliness, Jesus Christ is a gentleman. If you don’t want Him, He does not force Himself upon you. (He lets the Holy Spirit keep after you in your conscience, convicting and calling you to repentance.)

Interesting Characteristics of That First King

According to Psalm 139, God knows all our thoughts before we think them and did so, even in Samuel’s day. He knew what kind of a man the people wanted and just how superficial he could be and still satisfy them. So, in review, here is what they got, and note carefully for later comparison:

·         A man from the tribe of Benjamin. Remember that when Jacob blessed his sons just before his death, saying to Judah, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah” (Genesis 49:10), thus stating that any king would come from the tribe of Judah, that tribe from which was Jesus, later; this one comes from obscure and questionable background.

·         His father was a “mighty man of power,” thus backing this man up was considerable authority among the Benjamites as well as all Israel, no doubt;

·         He was a man, but still in his father’s household, subjecting to a servant’s opinions, perhaps suggesting he had no experience in leadership or expression of authority;

·         “He had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2).

According to this description, with God’s insight into their hearts, this is the kind of king the people wanted. It did not matter if he knew nothing about being a king and expressing leadership in moral righteousness as God would have liked. “Just show the neighbors that we are like them, then leave us alone to our own pleasures, but be sure to stand up for us and fight our battles for us.” Through Samuel, God told them what would be the result, but they were determined to have a king like their neighbors. Does all of this have a familiar ring to it?

One can read further in 1 Samuel how these disqualifying character traits became Saul’s downfall, while his soon-to-be-successor, David of the tribe of Judah, became “a man after God’s own heart,” as the Scriptures witness (1 Samuel 13:14 & Acts 13:22). But they got a handsome, stalwart individual for their king, giving no regard to what might be his underlying mindset and motives.

Does History Really Repeat Itself?

Centuries have come and gone since the days of Saul, king of Israel, and all of the circumstances of his selection as king and his performance in that role. Yet, people of the earth are all the same—as Paul wrote to the Romans, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God: (Romans 3:23).

The same mindset and self-centered motives merely become worldwide in scope. The attitude of the unredeemed population of the world takes on what I have termed the “Tower of Babel Syndrome,” That is, “God is a non-entity, and not worthy of consideration, let alone one who is to be obeyed.” Let’s see how the continuity of that mindset works out in today’s world view.

When God gave the people what they wanted, He did not give them a man who had any resemblance to His future choice for them—the Messiah King, Jesus Christ. Saul was not even from the tribe which was to have the lineage of kings.

·          That 1954 call a UN spokesman made with an urgent plea like this: “Bring us a man who can lead us out of this economic mess, and be he god or devil, we will accept him,” indicates a longing desire for someone to take charge (i.e. we want a king).

·         He will come out of one of the ten kingdoms of the restored Roman Empire (Daniel 7:24).

·         He will subdue three kingdoms, leaving seven (Daniel 7:8, 24).

·         He is not like (is different) those other kings (Daniel 7:24).

·         He will rise from obscurity, as a “little horn” (Daniel 7:8).

·         He will speak boastfully (Daniel 7:8).

·         He will blaspheme God (Daniel 7:25, 11:36).

·         He will change laws (Daniel 7:25).

·          He will pretend he is a man of peace (Daniel 9:26-27).

·         He will have no regard for the religion of his fathers (Daniel 11:37—he will make himself as God?).

·         He will have no regard for women (Daniel 11:37). (In the manner of Muslim tradition, or other?) [1]

·         He will “do as he pleases” (Daniel 11:36) [2].

·         He will have no earthly successor (Daniel 7:26-27).

There are more in other books of the Bible, especially in the New Testament but these are some of Daniel’s look ahead warnings. Perhaps as my mom would have said, “That fellow has a nasty way about him.” Has  any such person shown up yet?