As we near the quarter year mark of being on this journey, we will transition to the Kingdom era in the Bible – an era where God provides leadership for His people through the kings whom He appoints and anoints. To do this, in the upcoming weeks and months, we will weave through the various books of history and prophets to see God’s hand at work in the lives of His children.
Last week we saw how the sinfulness of God’s people caused a downward spiral even though we saw pockets of peace and God’s deliverance through those who were used by Him to lead the people while serving as Judges.
Now, we will see how Samuel is raised up to be the last Judge of Israel but who is also an amazing prophet. At a time when the word of the Lord was rare (1 Samuel 3:1), we see that Samuel who was fully dedicated to the Lord since he was weaned is attested as a prophet and the Lord “let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19).
How refreshing! What hope it gives to us to know that when one is given over to the Lord, and speaks only what he (or she) hears from the Lord, then the Lord Himself will back up everyone of the words and they will not fail.
Then we will see how the people of Israel opted for a king by rejecting God as their King (1 Samuel 8:7). We will find out that this choice is pretty significant. Because up until this point, the leaders that God provided for the people of Israel led from a place of spiritual authority while doing great exploits in conquering the nations and leading the people “politically” as well. However with the transition to Kingdom era, we see that a separation is established between the spiritual and the political. From this point on, we will see that God raised up prophets to provide the spiritual guidance while the kings are the recognized rulers over the people. And the kings did not always seek the Lord or his prophets which will lead to more trouble later….but we are getting ahead of ourselves here.
This week, as much as we are encouraged from the life of Samuel, we will also learn some valuable lessons from the life of Saul (Israel’s first king) who started out well but ended very poorly.
The difference between the two parts of Saul’s life that we are exposed to are startlingly like day and night.
Here are some things I noticed about Saul’s early days:
- Handsome (1 Samuel 9:2)
- Experienced the Spirit of the Lord upon Him (1 Samuel 10:10)
- Counted among the prophets (1 Samuel 10:10-11)
- Timid (1 Samuel 10:22)
- Put up with criticism (1 Samuel 10:27)
- Mighty Conquerer (1 Samuel 11:1-11; 14:47)
Then, came an act of disobedience (1 Samuel 15:3, 9) which caused the Lord to be sorry that He had even made Saul the king (1 Samuel 15:11) leading to God’s rejection of him as king (1 Samuel 15:26). And David receives the anointing as the next king in a secret ceremony (1 Samuel 16:13). Immediately after that we read that the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14).
And these are some things I noticed since this turning point:
- He is tormented by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:15)
- Does not have the courage to face Goliath in battle (1 Samuel 17). This is in contrast to the courage displayed by the newly anointed David.
- Grows in fear and jealousy (1 Samuel 18)
- Anger leads to intentions of murder against David (1 Samuel 18-20)
- Murders the priests of God (1 Samuel 22:8-23)
- Engaged in sorcery (1 Samuel 28)
- Takes his own life after defeat in battle (1 Samuel 31)
And while Saul is declining, we see David continues to excel and prosper because David now had the Spirit of the Lord upon him.
What a difference the anointing of the Lord makes! And David knew this better than anyone else which is why he writes in Psalm 23…
And for those of us living after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we do not have to wait for a prophet of God to anoint us with oil but we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20). And the Holy Spirit enables us to do all things.
The Spirit of the Lord enabled Saul to prophecy and do mighty conquests.
The Spirit of the Lord enabled David to soothe Saul of his torment, slay the giant, escape the wrath of Saul and conquer tens of thousands.
And the Spirit of the Lord is available to us today to do mighty exploits for the Lord. And it does require obedience and heart that is devoted to the Lord.
And may we all daily ask the Lord to anoint our heads with the oil of Holy Spirit and fill our cups so that it continues to overflow.
And if you now want to study the text further, you can start by getting a good overview by watching this short summary of the book of 1 Samuel presented by The Bible Project.
And now if you want to read for yourself about this period of Israel’s journey, here is rest of the info for you to embark on this journey on your own….
As the Israelites struggled to stay focused on the worship of the one true Lord, God does grant them their wish for a king but leadership over God’s people requires His anointing and an obedient heart.
Weekly Reading Plan
And if you want to read more during the week, here is the weekly plan:
If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:
- Read the entire book of 1 Samuel. Since most of it is narrative, it should be very doable.
- Read Chronicles 1-10 to see the parallel narrative in the book of Chronicles.
- Reads Proverbs 21:6. No matter who is the king or leader, who is really in charge?
- Read 1 John 2:20-27. What is the anointing that John is speaking about here?
- Optional: Read Psalms 37-39
And that is it for week 13!
Happy Bible Learning!