Summary: As we examine the events surrounding the reign of King Saul, we will learn three key lessons: #1 God sets a higher standard #2 God is calling #3 God desires relationship over ritual
I love family vacations. They are so much fun . . . creating family togetherness . . . building relationships . . . strengthening the bonds of familial love . . . creating memories that will last a life time. BUT . . . sometimes the road trip – especially if you have children – can be . . . well let’s just say challenging at times. We have four children that actually travel really well all things considered, but, if you’ve traveled any length of time as a family you know it’s just a matter of time before it begins.
First they start to squirm and wiggle and pretty soon . . . you hear it: “Stop touching me!” – “I’m not! You’re touching me!” – “You’re on my side! “ – “Nu-uh! This is my side!” – “Mom! He took my toy!” – “I had it first!” – “No you didn’t!” – “Yes I did!” – “Dad! He’s looking out my window! . . .” and on and on it goes until finally . . . Mom and Dad have had enough! The threats begin, right? “Don’t make me stop this car!” – “If you don’t straighten up, I will turn this car around!” Finally . . . after all of this gets sorted out . . . you pull out of the driveway . . . and you’re on your way to make some fun family memories.
In some ways, living life is like driving a car. As you drive, you have to keep your eyes on the road to know where you’re going and what lies ahead . . . you must also keep an eye on the instrument panel to see what’s happening right now (your speed, mileage, any warning lights) . . . but you also have to check your mirrors to see where you’ve been and what’s happening behind you; or in the past. Similar to this, in life you have to look forward to the future; to see and know where you’re heading in life . . . you must also live life in the present or you will miss out on so many important things . . . and we must remember the past – where we’ve been and where others have gone – so we can learn from the past. The philosopher, George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The Word of God tells us, in reference to the history of the Old Testament . . . particularly the history of Israel . . . that the events which took place are to be an example for us, so that we don’t repeat their folly. The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 10, in reference to Israel’s history, “These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did,” (I Corinthians 10:6; NLT) and it goes on to say, “These things happened to them as an example [to us], and they were written for our instruction.” (I Corinthians 10:11; NASB). So there are great life lessons that can be found by studying the lives of those who lived during the time of the Old Testament.
Today we’ll be looking a few events surrounding the rise and fall of the first king of Israel. His story is found in the book of I Samuel from chapter 8 to the end of the book. Saul lived about 1000 years before the time of Christ. So we’re talking about history that took place just over 3000 years ago. According to the scriptural timeline, (I Samuel 13:1, Acts 13:21), Saul began his reign when he was 30 years old and would reign as King over Israel for the next 40 years as a warrior King who would deliver Israel from her enemies.
THE DEMAND FOR A KING
We pick up the story in I Samuel 8:4-7 as the Elders of the tribes of Israel assemble before the prophet Samuel and demand a king to rule over the people of Israel.
[Read - 1 Samuel 8:4-7]
Up to this point in the history of God’s people, they had lived under a theocracy – a God centered leadership over the people. You’ll remember as Moses brought the people out of slavery, through the wilderness, and ultimately into the land promised by God . . . that it was God who lead them with the cloud of his presence by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 31:21). But now the people are demanding a king to rule over them and lead them and fight for them. Now this, in and of itself, was not necessarily bad thing. In fact, a provision had been made within the Mosaic Law for the guidelines of appointing a king (Deuteronomy 17:15). But there was definitely something significant going on here with regard to the inner motivations of the people. The prophet Samuel saw this demand as evil and it displeased him greatly and God saw it as a rejection of Him. You see, it was not the desire for a king that was the problem, but it was the rejection of God and the desire to be “like all the nations” that was the problem [see 1 Samuel 8:5] I think the phrase “like all the nations” is very significant and I think it gives us insight into the inner motivations of the people. The people wanted to move from a theocracy (a God-centered leadership) to a monarchy (a man-centered leadership). This was a step down – a move away from God and a move toward the ways of the world . . . they wanted to be “like all the nations."