In chapter 8 of 1 Samuel, we saw how the peoples’ choice for king prevailed over the prophet Samuel’s warnings. Though God instructed Samuel to find and anoint a king, Samuel persistently resisted. What circumstances would finally lead Samuel to provide for the transition of power to an office that was less than happy about? The answer is leisurely revealed over the next 4 chapters. First, in 9:1-10:16 the Lord identified Saul as His answer to the Israelite’s cry for a king to deliver them from the Philistines; in verses 17-27 of chapter 10, Saul was publicly inaugurated; the first 11 verses of chapter 11 show how Saul was tested in battle; and in the remainder of chapters 11 and 12, his monarchy is confirmed in the presence of the Lord. This Sunday we will examine the events of chapters 9-10; but try to read all four chapters (9-12) before we meet.
Chapters 9-10 narrate the identification and inauguration of Israel’s king Saul. Saul was a man of impressive height and charm, fulfilling the physical expectation of a monarch. But he was also a poor shepherd as he failed to find his father’s lost animals. When he and his companion gave up on their search and turned for home, they “happen to” run into Samuel. Samuel was given the special revelation that Saul would be the man chosen to govern Israel. When he was alone with Saul, Samuel anointed him and shared a very specific prophecy of events that would lead to the Spirit of God coming upon Saul in power. Curiously in verse 9 of chapter 10 it says, “God gave him (Saul) another heart.” What are we to make of this statement? Many jump to the conclusion that this means that the Lord regenerated Saul. What do you think? Was Saul a child of God? Why or why not? How would you defend your claim? Whatever change happened in Saul’s life, in the end, his life was a complete disaster. How can one’s doctrinal position regarding regeneration and perseverance cloud one’s understanding of what God is doing in Saul’s life?
Saul’s secret anointing became public at a convocation in Mizpah (10:17-27). Once again, Samuel reiterated that their longing for a human king was, in effect, a rejection of Yahweh as their king. This somber speech would prepare Israel for the devastation that awaited them – the consequence of their craving for a monarch.
The events in this section reveal how God is sovereign over the details of our lives. He who notices the trail of the sparrow, ordains the direction of milk-cows, and causes donkeys to stray, has an even greater interest in His beloved children. In fact, our very steps are ordered by Him (Prov 16:9, 20:24). There is no such thing as “happenstance;” we may not know where the next hour will carry us, but God knows the end from the beginning because He defines it! What a comfort to know that He holds our future!