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Thursday, June 21, 2018

What Does the Time of Samuel Teach Us?

            During my Old Testament studies, I was required to write several essays for an Old Testament Survey course.  As part of the overall dynamic of this course, we were always to look for and consider the value of the Old Testament for our lives.  This essay was confined to four specific questions that must be answered:

 During the time of Samuel, why did the people of Israel desire a king? Why was Saul chosen, and, ultimately, why was he rejected? What attribute did David display that made him a better king than Saul? What sin did Solomon commit that ultimately led to the division of Israel after his death?

Israel desired a King

During the time of the Judges the Bible states that “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.”[1]  As you read further in the book of Judges you see that the people of Israel had truly turned away from God and “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”[2]  By the time that Samuel was old enough to step into the station and position of Judge, Priest and Prophet the people of Israel had already gone through multiple repeated cycles of “apostasy, distress and deliverance.”[3]  Israel’s heart was no longer after God.  The elders of Israel told Samuel that he was getting old and the sons he had appointed as leaders were not following his ways.  This was therefore a good reason for him to give them a king when in truth all they wanted was to be like all the other nations.[4]  In this statement they rejected the Lord God of Israel who had brought them out of Egypt, who had parted the Red Sea, the one who had made them a nation.  Even after being warned what this king would do, what he would take and how he would oppress, they still desired a king.  Israel wanted someone to lead them and fight their battles.  They turned their backs on the covenant and on God.  Samuel prayed and was instructed by God to give his people what they wanted.    

Saul: Chosen and Rejected
Samuel was directed to the right place to meet and anoint Saul the one the Lord spoke of who would lead and govern his people as their king.  Saul was handsome and stood taller than everyone.  On the outside he looked impressive and when introduced to the people they agreed with the choice.  However, he was not God’s true choice
for God desired one from the tribe of Judah not the tribe of Benjamin.
Though Saul was warned by Samuel to follow after the Mosaic covenant Saul did not do so.  He repeatedly acted in rebellion and disobedience to God.  His final act of disobedience that caused God to reject him as king came when instructed to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy them and all that belongs to them.”[5]  Saul in his own wisdom decided to spare the life of King Agag and the best of his sheep, cattle, fat calves and lambs.  But when confronted by Samuel he arrogantly states that he did obey the Lord.[6]  

David: A Better King
In comparison to Saul, David was a young man who knew God.  He had faith in God as proven when he faced Goliath of Gath and stated “the battle is the LORD’S and he will give all of you into our hands.”[7]  Though anointed by Samuel during the reign of Saul, David honored Saul as God’s anointed and would not raise his hand against him.  David showed real character and honor in spite of Saul’s many attempts to kill him.  Once Saul had died David mourned his passing and had the man killed who took Saul’s life because he had “killed the LORD’S anointed.”[8]  As king, David “established justice and righteousness, and installed trusted public officials.”[9]  But greater than anything else was how David responded to correction.  When David did wrong in the sight of God he came back to God with a repentant heart.  David had to cope with the “outworking of the curses” spoken upon him by Nathan for breaking the covenant.[10]   However he never lost his faith or belief in God’s unconditional covenant with him.

Solomon's Sin
Before David died he installed his son Solomon on the throne.  Solomon followed his father’s instructions to “purge the nation of those who pose a threat to his power and the covenant.”[11]  Solomon’s obedience to the covenant produced the successful unification of the nation.  As king he went on to build and dedicate the temple.  However, in all of his wisdom he took as wives and concubines women from the peoples that God had told the Israelites not to intermarry with.  God’s word says that Solomon had “700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines, and his wives lead his astray.  As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God as the heart of David his father had been.”[12]  Solomon went so far as to build a “high place” for Chemosh (the god of the Moabites) and Molek (the god of the Ammonites) as well as for the other gods that his foreign wives burned incense and offered sacrifices to.  When Solomon turned away from God, God in turn turned away from him.  He spoke the coming division of the nation as a judgment against Solomon's sin.

What Does the Time of Samuel Teach Us?
In all of this we see how God honored those who honored God’s covenant.  We also see how “Israel’s external condition was inextricably linked to her spiritual condition”[13] or the condition of her leaders.  We can understand how this can be applied to our lives when we understand the lesson here that God desires obedience

copyright Voice From The End of Town
Copyright Voice From The End of Town


Hindson, Ed, and Gary Yates. The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2012.
New International Version Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.

[1] Judges 2:10 NIV
[2] Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25 KJV
[3] (Hindson and Yates 2012, p138)
[4] 1 Samuel 8:4 NIV
[5] 1 Samuel 15:3 NIV
[6] 1 Samuel 15:20 NIV
[7] 1 Samuel 17:47 NIV
[8] 2 Samuel 1:15-16 NIV
[9] (Hindson and Yates 2012, p169)
[10] (Hindson and Yates 2012, p170)
[11] (Hindson and Yates 2012, p180)
[12] 1 Kings 11:3-4 NIV
[13] (Hindson and Yates 2012, p148)

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