2020 Bible Vision
1 Samuel 9-12
Israel gets its first king. Saul comes from Benjamin, the least of the tribes, but he stands a head taller and is exceedingly handsome. He has the look of a king and his story almost begins like a fairy tale with him searching for lost donkeys, stumbling across Samuel the prophet, and hiding out when his lot is cast and he’s declared king. He wins a decisive battle which immediately cements his reign. But the fairytale descends into a nightmare quickly, as the king’s heart for God’s authority is not as desirable as his looks. Samuel recounts the ways that God has always looked after his people without a human king and does not hold back in calling their desire for a king sin. He warns them that they and their king will need to follow God and not turn to idols and he brings thunder and rain in the dry season as a miraculous backup for his warnings. The people ask Samuel to pray for them so they will not die for this extra sin and he famously promises to pray for them.
1 Samuel 12:14 “If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord you God, it will be well.”
These chapters are so interesting because there seems to be such a tension between right and wrong but so much mercy from God and even hopefulness in the midst of a sin that breaks God’s heart. He lets his people do this thing with their free will that he is opposed to. He knows what Saul will become and what future kings will do to his people and it breaks his heart. There is a hopefulness though. If the people and their king will obey God, then it could be so good. Unfortunately, as we keep reading this will be a rare occurrence.
This encourages me to be more open minded and hopeful for people even when it seems like they are making bad choices. God works with sinful people (like me!) to do his work all the time.
I want to be an agent of grace that leads people to God even as I speak the truth like Samuel did. It’s a tough balance!
I see Jesus in this passage and in particular the key verse because it isn’t until his reign and his church that we have a king and a people who do the will of God. God’s people were blessed with some imperfect but good kings but none of them can compare with King Jesus. We’re so blessed to have a king that Isaiah said wasn’t special looking like Saul but was willing to sacrifice for his people. A king who chose a crown of thorns over a crown of gold. Praise God!