Summary: What characterizes a heart that is fully given to God?
In 1 Samuel 8, we are told how the people of Israel asked for a king to lead them. When they made this request of Samuel he went to the Lord, and the Lord told him that they were not rejecting Samuel, but they were rejecting God from being king over them. Samuel was told to tell the people what the rule of an earthly king would mean and what they would be subjected to, yet they still requested that a king be put over them to lead them as a nation. Samuel went to the Lord again and was told, “Listen to them and give them a king,” (1 Samuel 8:22).
The king that God led Samuel to was Saul (1 Samuel 9). Saul was everything one might have expected in a king.
“They ran and got him. He took his place before everyone, standing tall—head and shoulders above them. Samuel then addressed the people, ‘Take a good look at whom GOD has chosen: the best! No one like him in the whole country!’ Then a great shout went up from the people: ‘Long live the king!’” - 1 Samuel 10:23-24 (The Message)
But despite his qualifications, Saul had a heart problem - his heart was not right with God. As a result of his disobedience to clear commands from God, Saul is rejected as king. Now in chapter 16, we find that Samuel is told by the Lord to quite mourning and to get moving! God is going to raise up someone else who, unlike Saul, will have a heart that is right and will lead Israel in a way that will honor Him.
Two thoughts here about how God works:
1. God works despite the failures of men.
“God will never allow His work to die with the death or failure of a man. If it is God’s work, it goes beyond any man. Perhaps Samuel was paralyzed with mourning because of Saul’s tragic rebellion, but God was not paralyzed.” - David Guzik
So God told Samuel to go anoint another as king. Now, the rift between Samuel and Saul had been rather public, so Samuel was nervous about Saul becoming angry with him should he learn that he was anointing another to take his place. But God told Samuel how to go about things in such a way as to protect himself from Saul’s possible vengeance. He was to go to Bethlehem to offer a sacrifice.
This would not only protect Samuel; it would calm the nerves of the elders of Bethlehem.
In his commentary on this passage, Bob Deffinbaugh shares this story to illustrate the reason why the elders were nervous. "I remember my first day on the job delivering for a wholesale meat company. It was actually my brother-in-law’s job, but I agreed to fill in while he did practice teaching one semester. The first day on the job I accompanied him as we delivered meat to various
businesses. I thought I should dress appropriately since it was my first day, so I wore a suit. I have never made that mistake again. When we entered one of those eating places, we went through the back door into the kitchen. We were greeted with startled, panic-stricken looks. I did not understand, but my brother-in-law did. “It’s that suit you’re wearing,” he said. “People think you’re from the health department.”