1 Samuel 8:1-12:25 Seek God’s Guidance

                SEEK GOD’S GUIDANCE
        1 Samuel 8:1-12:25      September 28 2008

    The Philistines possessed a significant advantage over
Israel in their military organization. Repeatedly the
Philistines had defeated the Israelites. In addition , their
government was organized around five city-states , each
ruled by a king. Other nations around Israel also had kings
who ruled over them.
    As Samuel grew older the people felt a terrible
foreboding . His sons had shown themselves too selfish
and wicked to govern the nation. Who wound rule in Israel
when he was gone?  The people thought they wanted to be
like their neighbors and likely hoped that would give them
strength against their enemies. Thus they asked Samuel
to appoint a king to govern them God granted their petition
but considered it simply another  of many rebellious
choices of Israel. Samuel warned the people that the
absolute power of a king could pose danger . Nevertheless ,
they insisted on a monarchy.
    The king was selected as the Lord worked through a
series of seemingly unrelated events. A Benjaminite lost
some donkeys. He sent his son Saul to find them. After an
unsuccessful search the son arrived in Ramah and sought the
prophet Samuel’s help. Samuel invited Saul to a special
religious meal . The next day as Saul was preparing to return
home, Samuel anointed him king of Israel. When Saul arrived
home, he said nothing about this and resumed his previous
routine.
    Thereafter , Samuel summoned the Israelites to Mizpah .
During the assembly he revealed the identity of their new
king. However, Saul hid until the people seized him and
proclaimed him king . Nevertheless, Saul continued his life
as a farmer. When the Ammonites attacked Jabesh-gilead,
Saul finally acted. Mobilizing the entire nation, he won a
decisive victory. Consequently Saul’s kingship was
confirmed in a national ceremony at Gilgal. The occasion
marked the transferal of political leadership from Samuel’s
judgeship to the monarchy of Saul.

    1. Asking for God’s Guidance (1 Sam. 8:4-6)

1Sam. 8:4   So all the elders of Israel gathered together and
came to Samuel at Ramah.  8:5   They said to him, “You are
old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a
king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 8:6   But
when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased
Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.

    Accepted bribes . Perversion of justice through bribery
was explicitly forbidden in Pentateuchal law ( Ex 23:8;
Dt 16:19). Appoint a king to lead us. The elders cite Samuel’s
age and the misconduct of his sons as justifications for their
request for a king. It soon becomes apparent, however, that
the more basic reason for their request was a desire to be
like the surrounding nations —to have a human king as a symbol
of national power and unity who would lead them in battle and
guarantee their security (1 Sam. 8:20; 10:19; 12:12; ). Listen
to all that the people are saying . Anticipations of kingship in
Israel are present already in the Pentateuch (Ge 49:10; Nu 24:7,
17; Dt 17:14-20); Samuel is therefore instructed to listen to
the people’s request (1 Sam. 8:9,22). It is not you they have
rejected , but they me as their  as their king. (Jdg 8:23). The
sin of Israel in requesting a king (1 Sam.10:19; 12:12,17,
19-20) did not rest in any evil inherent in kingship itself, but
rather in the kind of kingship the people envisioned and their
reasons for requesting it . Their desire was for a form of
kingship that denied their covenant relationship with the
Lord, who himself was pledged to be their savior and
deliverer. In requesting a king “like all the other nations”
(1 Sam.8:20) they broke the covenant, rejected the Lord who
was their King (1 Sam.12:12; Nu 23:21; Dt 33:5) and forgot
his constant provision for their protection in the past
(1 Sam.10:18; 12:8-11).

    2. Discerning God’s Guidance (1 Sam. 10:20-24)

1Sam. 10:20   When Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel
near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. 10:21   Then he
brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and
Matri’s clan was chosen. Finally Saul son of Kish was
chosen. But when they looked for him, he was not to be
found. 10:22   So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has
the man come here yet?” And the LORD said, “Yes, he has
hidden himself among the baggage.” 10:23   They ran and
brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a
head taller than any of the others. 10:24   Samuel said to all
the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There
is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people
shouted, “Long live the king!”

    Tribe of Benjamin was chosen . Probably by casting lots
(1Sam. 14:41-42; Jos 7:15-18). The Urim and Thummim were
used for this purpose (1 Sam. 2:28; Ex 28:30). Long live the
king ( 2 Sam 16:16). Regulations of the kingship. Samuel here
takes the first step toward resolving the tension that
existed between Israel’s misdirected desire for a king (and
their misconceived notion of what the king’s role and function
should be) and the Lord’s intent to give them one . This
description of the duties and prerogatives of the Israelite king
was given for the benefit of both the people and the king-
designate. It was intended to clearly distinguish Israelite
kingship from that of the surrounding nations and to ensure that
the king’s role in Israel was compatible with the continued
rule of the Lord over Israel as her Great King ( Dt 17:14-20).
Depostited it before the Lord . The written constitutional-legal
document defining the role of the king in governing God’s
covenant people was preserved at the sanctuary (the tabernacle,
later the temple). Other written documents defining Israel’s
covenant relationship with the Lord are referred to in( Ex 24:7;
Dt 31:26; Jos 24:26).

    3. Committing to God’s Guidance (1 Sam. 12:13-15,20-23)

1Sam. 12:13   Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you
asked for; see, the LORD has set a king over you. 12:14   If you
fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against
his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you
follow the LORD your God —good!  12:15   But if you do not obey
the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will
be against you, as it was against your fathers. 12:20   “Do not
be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do
not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your
heart. 12:21   Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do
you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.
12:22   For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject
his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.
12:23   As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against
the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the
way that is good and right.

     The Lord has seta king over you . In spite of the sinfulness
of the people’s request, the Lord had chosen to incorporate
kingship into the structure of the theocracy (his kingdom).
Kingship was given by the Lord to his people and was to
function as an instrument of his rule over them. If you fear
the Lord . Samuel relates the old covenant condition (Ex 19:5-6;
Dt 8:19; 11:13-15,22-28; 28; 30:17-18; Jos 24:20) to the new
era Israel is entering with the establishment of the monarchy.
If both you and king . . . Follow the Lord your God —good ! Israel
and her king are to demonstrate that although human kingship
has been established, they will continue to recognize the Lord
as their true King. In this new era where potential for divided
loyalty between the Lord and the human king arises, Israel’s
loyalty to the Lord must remain inviolate. For similar use of
the expression “to follow” (2Sa 2:10; 15:13; 1Ki 12:20; 16:21).
But if you do not obey. Samuel confronts Israel with the same
alternatives Moses had expressed centuries earlier (Dt 28; 30:
15-20). The introduction of kingship into Israel’s socio-
political structure has not changed the fundamental nature of
Israel’s relationship to the Lord. Yet do not turn away from
the Lord. Samuel again brings into focus the central issue in
the controversy surrounding the establishment of kingship in
Israel. Useless Idols. No rivals to the Lord can deliver or
guarantee security. I will teach you the way that is good and
right . Samuel is not retiring from his prophetic role when
he presents the people with their king. He will continue to
intercede for the people (1 Sam. 12:19; 7:8-9) and will
instruct them in their covenant obligations (Dt 6:18; 12:28).
Saul and all future kings are to be subject to instruction and
correction by the Lord’s prophets. Fear the Lord. . Samuel
summarizes Israel’s obligation of loyalty to the Lord as an
expression of gratitude for the great things he has done
for them. You and your king will be swept away . Should the
nation persist in covenant-breaking conduct, it will bring
upon itself its own destruction.

        Summary:

            To "fear the Lord" expresses personal piety. Fear
is the natural, first response to a revelation of God’s
presence and Power (Isa. 6:5; Ezek. 128; Rev. 1:17). However,
this phrase depicts far more than any initial terror that
the awareness of God’s presence might arouse. The Lord
always is present with humanity. Therefore, we cannot
escape His scrutiny. However, many people are not always
conscious of this reality.
            People who constantly are aware of the Lord’s
presence will live their life accordingly. A keen awareness
of God’s nearness and an understanding of His nature have
a definite impact on our behavior. The awesome realization
that God is holy and we are sinful dominates this
awareness. Even more significant is the knowledge that
despite this vast difference, God has chosen imperfect
individuals to be His People. The commitment of these
individuals to God forges their attitude and behavior.
            Therefore , people who fear the Lord reject
other gods. They strive to conform to the Lord’s prescribed
conduct. They care for other people as well as obey God’s
commandments.