Daily reading assignment: 1 Samuel 9-12

Israel will learn their rejection of the LORD and His capitulation to their demands for a king (8:6-7) will reap sorrows in the years to come.

1 Samuel 9 – Saul: The Man Who Will Be King

1 Samuel 9 introduces us to Saul, the man the LORD would direct Samuel to anoint as Israel’s first king (10:1). He was a handsome man, described as “a choice young man, and a goodly” (9:2). He was also a physically imposing figure, for “from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (9:2). We first meet Saul when his father, a wealthy and powerful man in Benjamin (9:1), sent him and a household servant in pursuit of three donkeys that had strayed (9:3).

What began for Saul as an ordinary, if not tedious, day would providentially become a day of destiny. Unable to locate the donkeys, Saul’s servant suggested they seek “a man of God” he believed would be able to direct them to the lost donkeys (9:6-9). Saul followed his servant’s suggestion, not realizing his life was about to change forever.

The LORD had disclosed to Samuel He would send Israel’s future king to him (9:15-16). Samuel and Saul were not acquaintances (9:17-18); however, the LORD promised to reveal to the prophet the man he was to anoint “to be captain over…Israel” (9:15-18).

After Samuel revealed to Saul that he was a man in whom all Israel would delight (9:20), Saul protested in humility saying, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? And my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?” (9:21)

In spite of his protests, Samuel invited Saul to a meal with thirty guests and there deferred to the young man the “chiefest place” at the table (9:22) and gave him the choicest meat (9:23-24).

1 Samuel 10 – Anointed to Be King

The next day Samuel anointed Saul to be Israel’s king, giving him three signs that were meant to confirm in his heart that he was indeed the chosen of God (10:1—8).  The three signs came to pass as Samuel had promised (10:9) and the LORD confirmed in Saul’s heart he was God’s chosen.

Samuel introduced Saul to the people as their king, warning them in choosing a king they were rejecting the LORD (10:17-19). After casting the lots of “Urim and Thummim” to confirm in the eyes of the people what the LORD had revealed to Samuel in private, Samuel presented Saul to the people (10:24).

1 Samuel 10 closes with a warning that all was not well in Israel. The people had the king they demanded, but we read “the children of Belial” (wicked, ungodly, worthless people living in their midst) “despised” Saul and refused to honor him (10:27).

1 Samuel 11 – Saul’s First Victory

Having chosen Saul to be king, the people soon faced the nation’s first test under his leadership. Ammonites “came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead” (located on the east side of Jordan), and the men of Jabesh offered to come to terms and make a treaty with their enemy (1 Samuel 11:1).

The Ammonites demanded a covenant that would be sealed with every man of Jabesh losing his right eye (11:2).  Receiving the appalling terms, the people appealed for seven days respite to see if any men of Israel would come to their aid (11:3). It appears the Ammonites and the men of Jabesh had little hope that Israel would organize an army and come to their aid.

After being anointed king, Saul had returned to his father’s household. When news of the calamity facing Jabeshgilead reached him (11:4-5), the Spirit of God stirred him. Saul rose to the challenge and commanded the men of Israel to gather for war against the Ammonites. The LORD gave Israel her first victory under Saul (11:6-11). Soon after, the people came together and reaffirmed Saul as king of Israel (11:12-15).

1 Samuel 12 – A Changing of the Guard in Israel

The stage was set for a change of leadership in Israel that would forever change the nation. Samuel reminded the people he had anointed them a king as they had demanded (12:1).

An old and gray haired man by his own admission (12:2), Samuel requested that the people affirm he had discharged his duties as a faithful prophet of the LORD (12:3).  Unlike his sons who “turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment (8:3), Samuel had this testimony among the people: “Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand” (12:4).

Samuel reminded the people of their godly heritage and how God had dealt with them as His people and kept His covenant with the nation (12:6-11). Reminding the people their demand for a king was a rejection of the LORD (12:12-13), Samuel challenged the people to fear the LORD (12:14-15).

Demonstrating the God of Israel was sovereign over Creation and to be feared and revered, Samuel called on the LORD to send a great storm with “thunder and rain” at a time known for a “wheat harvest” and drought (12:16-19).

Overcome with fear and dread (12:19), Samuel comforted the people, assuring them of the LORD’S patience and longing to bless those who obey His Law (12:20-24). Today’s devotional concludes with a warning Israel will fail to heed:

1 Samuel 12:2525  But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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