17 December 2014

1 Samuel 8:19-22

“When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. The LORD said to Samuel, ‘Listen to their voice and set a king over them.’” (vv. 21-22)

Psalm: Psalm 100


Although Samuel had warned them against it, people were still determined to have some kind of king: something other than a prophet to mediate between them and God.

Ultimately God authorises Samuel to begin the process which leads to the anointing of Saul as king (1 Samuel 10:1) and a reigns that begins with great promise ultimately descends into depression, a failure to obey God and the rejection of his kingship.

There was, of course, a difference in the kind of king for Israel compared to the kings of the nations surrounding them at the time of Samuel. Their kings were absolute secular monarchs but, as the Psalms remind us, for Israel the king was God's representative.

Psalm 2 begins:
"Why do the nations conspire,
  and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
  and the rulers take counsel together,
  against the LORD and his anointed." (vv. 1-2)

By the time this Psalm is in use, it's all right to quote God saying "I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill" (Psalm 2:6). The nation is still, ultimately, in God's care.

So although the story of Saul is like the story of most of Israel's kings - about the failure to fulfil the role for which he was ordained - it is also a step on the path that prepares the way for the coming of the king of kings, who would prove God's complete authority over even death.

To Ponder

  • Can you recall a time when, looking back, you've realised God was in control even though it hadn't seemed like it at first? What happened? Give thanks to God for this.
  • What qualities do you look for in a leader?

Bible notes author

The Revd Gareth Hill

Gareth Hill is a Methodist minister with a particular interest in pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being Church. He is​ in circuit ministry in the Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey Circuit in the Southampton District and has pastoral charge of six churches in Romsey and on the edge of the New Forest.