October 4, 2020

"Saul: Long live the king!"

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 10:1-27

The man chosen to be the first king over Israel has been anointed by Samuel in a private act in the opening verse of our reading today. I Samuel 10:1 says, “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?” This verse is a Christ-centered, grace filled Word. To understand the rise and fall of Israel’s first king, we need to know the Sovereign One who is at work behind the scene. God is at work to achieve his goal.

The monarchy in Old Testament Israel is not just the response of the Lord to the people’s request. It is God’s work, God’s initiative, God’s plan, God’s choice. This is more than just the coronation of one man over one little country in the Ancient Near East. God’s work, God’s initiative, God’s plan, God’s choice – it can only be understood fully in light of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. In so far as any king over God’s people ruled in grace and truth, it was the Spirit of Christ at work in him.

Questions:

What three signs are given to Saul to confirm for him the anointing he has just received?
What does “Immanuel” mean? Where do we hear this in the words of Samuel to Saul?
When Saul speaks to his uncle, what is he still focused upon? What does he not say?

We are told Saul said “nothing about the kingdom”. This is not good. Think about it: Saul has been given the “Word of the Lord” by the prophet Samuel. This is the living and active Word by which God will lead all things towards the establishment of his Kingdom of grace in Jesus Christ. This Word is powerful. John Woodhouse writes, “The word of God that Samuel spoke to Saul will turn out to be the most powerful factor not just in his life, not just in Israel’s life, but in the history of the world. It was the word of the kingdom!” And what does Saul do? He says “nothing about the kingdom”.

What has just happened to Saul? How can he go from being anointed by the Lord and filled with the Spirit of Christ to doing and saying nothing in particular? When Saul comes down from his spiritual high he is as ordinary and incompetent as he was before all this. It’s a hard lesson to learn but it’s a good reminder for the Church today: outward spirituality is not necessarily indicative of a heart and mind that has been transformed by the Word of God. Saul says nothing and even more disturbing, he does nothing.

Questions:

What do you think Saul was supposed to do after he received the Holy Spirit?
Who gets to work instead of Saul and what does this person do?

Out of his grace and love, God will give the people a king. Tribe by tribe, clan by clan, person by person, the people come forward until Saul is revealed to them as God’s chosen leader. The only problem is, he can’t be found. He’s hiding among the baggage. Is Saul being modest or is he scared? Maybe he is both. When he is brought out in verses 23-24 the people see an outwardly impressive man. Samuel says, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” He is tall and good looking and with that the people shout, “Long live the king!”

Questions:

The monarchy in Israel will not be like it is among the other nations. Who really has the authority in this story? What does he tell the people to do in end?
Does everyone support the new king? What does this indicate?

The Conclusion:

The ways of the Kingdom of God may seem foolish and weak in the eyes of the world, but we see more. The “Anointed One” is our Lord Jesus Christ who found a donkey and rode it into Jerusalem to be rejected and crucified on a cross. From the cross to the empty tomb and on to his Ascension into heaven, Christ has shown us what it means to be a true Leader, King, and Savior. This story of Saul is a grace-filled, Christ-centered Word when we know who leads and guides everything.

So, what about us? The life of the Church will not be sustained by buying into the ways of the world. There is no program for church growth or renewal apart from a sustained proclamation of the gospel. This is the gospel centered in the Kingdom that proclaims Christ as Lord of all of life. We live in strange times and the Church needs to be the voice of grace and hope to world gone into a frenzy of fear-based power, virtue signaling, and science-based worship. More than ever the Church needs to step up and live out a Kingdom centered Gospel that rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ: crucified, risen, and Lord. Amen.