Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Israel's First King

"A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 10:12).

Judges 9 says the first king in Israel was Abimelech. He reigned over only a small area. The honor, therefore, of being the first human king over all Israel went to Saul. When the people asked for a king, God made sure they got the best man for the job (1 Samuel 10:24).

Saul was the last judge of Israel. He was selected by God, anointed by Samuel, and elected by the nation (1 Samuel 9–10). Before he was crowned king, however, he had to fight Nahash the Ammonite (1 Samuel 11). Just as the Spirit came upon the judges to empower them for battle, so He fell upon Saul to enable him to defeat Ammon (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 14:6; 1 Samuel 10:6; 11:6). Successful as a judge, Saul was then crowned king (1 Samuel 12).

Samuel explained to Saul the one essential condition of kingship: submission to the High King, whose emissary was the prophet. For Saul that meant he must hearken to Samuel. Samuel told Saul that he would be tested; one day he would come to Gilgal and be tempted to offer sacrifice. He was never, as king, to presume to offer sacrifice and was to wait seven days at Gilgal until Samuel came to offer the sacrifice. Sadly, when that test came, Saul failed (1 Samuel 10:8; 13:7–15).

Samuel gave Saul three signs. First, the donkeys he sought would be found by others, meaning that he was relieved of his former responsibilities. Second, he would meet some men going to worship God and they would give him some of their bread, but none of their sacrificial meat. This meant that he was entitled to some provision from God, but never to any of God’s holy sacrifices. Third, the Spirit of God would fall upon Saul and he would prophesy as a member of the prophetic band (1 Samuel 10:2–6).

When Saul departed from Samuel, God gave him a new heart, His Spirit, and made him a new man (10:9–11). God also gave him a new father. Saul had been sent by his natural father to find lost donkeys, but when he returned he reported to his uncle (9:3 and 10:14–16). In between these events, Saul was seized by the Spirit and made part of the prophetic band. “And who is their father?” Samuel was the father of the prophets, and he became Saul’s father (10:12).

Samuel had authority over Saul, both as his “father” and as the emissary of God, the High King. As the body of Christ, the King of Kings, the church is called to a prophetic ministry to earthly rulers. Remember to hold your “rulers” accountable and remind them of the King over them.