Saturday, March 29, 2014

1 Samuel 9-12 About the matter of the kingdom

From 1 Samuel 9-12


1 Sam 9.1-27; Story; Saul Chosen to Be King
1 Sam 10.1-16; Story; Saul Anointed King
1 Sam 10.17-27; Story; Saul Proclaimed King
1 Sam 11.1-11; Story; Saul Defeats the Ammonites
1 Sam 11.12-15; Story; The Kingdom Is Renewed
1 Sam 12.1-25; Story; Samuel’s Farewell Address

Passage and Comments

Yesterday, Israel asked to be like all the other nations and have a king. Today, the LORD chooses their new king. Will he be what they expect?

Chapter nine introduces Saul. He is sent out of his land to search for some missing donkeys. Initially he has no success. But he and his companion decide to visit the prophet, whom they call a 'seer'. Provided they give him a present (food) they believe the seer can tell them where their donkeys are. The seer is Samuel (1 Sam 9.1-14).

Samuel has been told by the LORD that the king he is to anoint is coming. This king, like the judges before him will save Israel from the Philistines and 'restrain' Israel. When Saul arrives, Samuel identifies himself as the seer, invites him to eat with him and tells him the donkeys have been found (how did he know and find out?). He says this with a mysterious prediction of his upcoming role (1 Sam 9.20). They eat and spend time together for a while. The next day Samuel tells Saul he will reveal to him the word of God (1 Sam 9.15-27). This is where our passage picks up.
10 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. (1 Sam 10.1)
Samuel anoints him king (=the LORD's prince over Israel). He tells him about his role. He will save and protect Israel from the Philistines. To prove all this he will give a series of signs.
2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?” ’ (1 Sam 10.2)
The first sign is that they will be told their donkeys have been found, but their father is worried about them. They will be fed by these same people.
3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. (1 Sam 10.3-4)
The second sign involves another meeting. They will be met by three men who will have three goats and loaves of bread and one skin of wine. I suspect they will be impressed that Samuel was accurately been able to predict these things. In addition they will be given two loaves. Saul will be provided for along the way.
5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. (1 Sam 10.5-6)
Samuel predicts they will come upon a travelling band of prophets. I suspect they are religious people to proclaim the LORD (=prophesy). Possibly like priests. When Saul sees them, he to will prophesy. Samuel says, Saul will be turned into another man. He will change.
7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.” (1 Sam 10.7-8)
After all these signs happen, God will be with him. Samuel says, 'do what your hand finds to do'. I suspect whatever Saul does, he will have success because the LORD is with him.
9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. (1 Sam 10.9)
Saul was given a new heart. Bear this statement in mind for future reference. Samuel being the LORD's prophet as well as judge has predicted the future in truth because the LORD is with him.
10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” And a man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place. (1 Sam 10.10-13)
Saul prophesied. Normally prophesy means to predict the future. It can also be applied to communicating God's words to the people. Here I suspect Saul is proclaiming the LORD to the people. Lets see if Saul's behaviour lasts. He meets up with his father again.
14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” And Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything. (1 Sam 10.14-15)
Saul did not tell him anything about the kingdom. We need to question why and what this says about Saul. I suspect Saul is embarrassed. Perhaps he is still doubting. Saul hasn't stepped it up to align himself to kingdom matters. That's what he should have done. Here's why I asked to keep his heart changing in mind. It hasn't lasted.

Story of Israel

Saul as we will see does win some victories for the LORD. But at a critical point he wavers. He seems more concerned to look good in the eyes of the people than the eyes of the LORD. This is the struggle with the people of God. Quite often the faithful ones who do step it up for the kingdom of God are persecuted by the world around them.

Following Saul God raises up another king who did step it up. King David. Saul will be remembered as having rejected the LORD, David will be remembered as the faithful king, bearer of God's promises for an eternal kingdom (2 Sam 7).

Story of Jesus

Many years later, another came who was a descendant of Jesus. Like Saul many signs were given to prove who he was. Not to him, he already knew. But to those around him.
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (Jn 20.30-31)
Unlike Saul, Jesus didn't avoid speaking about the Kingdom of God. He proclaimed it out loud for everyone (e.g. Mk 1.15). Jesus stepped up and didn't back down. Even to the point of predicting his own death and resurrection and intentionally bringing it about.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mk 8.31)
Jesus stepped up to the cross and ushered in his kingdom.