Session 22: The Making of Kings
And Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. "There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:1-2
Key verses: 1 Samuel, key verse, 2: 1-10; 8:10-20
Timeline, about 1100-1000 BC. During the time of the early Israelites, the areas were ruled by Egypt, Achaeans, and Assyrians, the Iron Age is at hand, bronze is still used in the majority of weapons and farming tools. Hinduism's main writings are formed, chess and spun cotton are invented in India, acupuncture is developed in China, and the Torah is set into writing.
Key personalities: Eli, Samuel, Saul and David
The Bible starts off the history of humanity in a garden; after our journeys in sin, our fall, pride, struggle, and looking to the work of Christ redeeming us, we end up back in the garden of Paradise--the garden of being in Him! This is what the new nation was meant to be, but man's sin and betrayal to God got in that Way. It all went wrong by sin and disobedience; the people disregarded God's correcting judgment to set them straight. Now, the people no longer want to be led by God; they want a king like the other kingdoms that are evil and corrupt. God obliged them with kingly leaders--good ones and evil ones. Some, like David with a heart after Christ, some like Saul, who started off right and fell to pride and still others like Ahab and Manasseh who were just evil, megalomaniacal and tyrannical rulers.
The Books of I and II Samuel. This was originally a single scroll/book, mostly written by Samuel and compiled by a disciple of his. This work was divided when it was translated into Greek because of the length of the scrolls. These books cover the period of Israel's history with birth of Samuel, Saul and David's life and reign. We are given a dramatic depiction of the "theocratic monarchy." God calls and instructs the kings who rule as stewards for Him; the king represents God's rule over the people. The name of the Book is from Samuel who was considered the thirteenth Judge and high priest, was the main person, was a man of real faith and was powerfully used by God. He closes off the period of Judges and begins the monarchy; God has him anoint the first two kings, Saul and David.
· 1 Samuel 1-8, Eli and Samuel
· 1 Samuel 9-15, Samuel and Saul
· 1 Samuel 16-31, Samuel and David
As new generations emerge, they fall into the same trap of their forefathers-finding sin and trouble, crafting false idols and complaining relentlessly, and seeking anything and anyone except God. So, God rightly punishes the first Exodus generation and doesn't allow them to pass into the Promise Land. After 40 years, the next generation takes the land, and God sets up His people and the Tabernacle as the signpost to The Lord God Yahweh's Holiness and presence. But in the 400 years of the Judges, each progressive generation becomes more and more ungrateful; they forget who they are and Who God is. Even with this, God's grace endures and ensures-His goodness and mercy are forever.
Key Happenings: Foolishness, pride and paranoia are the tools for straying far from God's Path!
After more than 400 years, the Israelites have to do the work that generations after Joshua failed to do. They now have even bigger problems. Because the evil people were not properly removed, they grew worse and more numerous. Instead of a kingdom of peace and prosperity, they must live and die by the sword. It is a case of God's provision versus humanity's disobedience, as the people were worshiping the pagan gods, too. The people were afraid to trust in God with their whole hearts. At the same time, they bought into the-grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side mentality; they thought life would be better if they were like the other nations--you know, the evil ones. They wanted a king; God was always their King, and the consequences of their sinful wants will become apparent.
· Hannah, Chapters 1 and 2, are about a mother's heart after God, gratitude, obedience ad faith in the sea of pride and defiance of a nation. Her prayer to the Lord is a grand example of a heart after God's.
· Eli. The High Priest of Shiloh, Eli realizes God is speaking to Samuel. Eli recognizes Eli as special and disciples him in the ways of the Faith and knowledge of God. Eli was a good priest but made a fatal error that Samuel would not repeat. He failed to disciple and discipline his own children, Hophni and Phinehas, as they were behaving wickedly and called upon God's judgment. Eli received God's judgment for it and realized too late his errors but he accepted God's judgment. Samual steps up to leadership. As Samuel was a great leader, he will do the same for his sons, setting the stage for David's legacy. The lesson is this: Every generation needs salvation and conversion, as God does not have grandchildren-we are His children in every generation. Never assume your children will follow the faith without discipleship!
· Ichabod. Eli's daughter-in-law realizes the sin of her husband and knows God's judgment; she names her son Ichabod, meaning 'God's glory has departed.' Meanwhile, the Ark is stolen by the Philistines during the chaos of Eli's sons. Eli lost His legacy, the glory leaves Israel for a time and, in the setting of defeat and judgment, Samuel's faithfulness was refreshing. God sends plagues to the Philistines, and they send the Ark back on an ox cart (without a driver), and it comes back to Israel.
· Samuel, the thirteenth and last Judge and Transitory leader. He was dedicated to the service of the Lord at a young age. He grows in faith and lives an exemplary life of serving the Lord with faith. God communes with him as a child and Samuel has the great privilege to audibly hear God's call and commands. He was the ideal prophet and person who deeply followed God and set up schools that continued to educate others to the time of Christ. He was the transition from the Judges to the monarchy (Sam. 8; Psalm 99:6; Jer. 15:1; Acts 3:24; 13:20).
· As Hebrews describes him, who through faith, referring to the continuance of the Jewish legacy of faith and culture by the Judges, like Gideon, Barak, and Jephthah. These people, showed that the normal, everyday person can have victory in God by putting into effect real faith even in what seems to be defeat (Judg. 4:6-5:15; 6:11-8:35; 11:1-12:7; 13:24-16:31; 1Sam. 12:11; 1 Chron. 17:6).
The People Demand a King. During the 400 years of the judges and under Samuel, the Israelites struggled to keep the land, were felled by disobedience and were occupied by the minor nations around them. Samuel was distraught over feeling rejected by God, but God assures the He does not reject; rather, He is giving the people what they wanted in the form of judgment.. Saul warns the Israelites what will happen-- they did not listen. The Israelites had to learn to trust and turn to God to redeem them and He does, many times. This goes on for about 350 years. They failed to love the Lord and they disregarded His plan and precepts, regardless of worldly kingdom. God sends numerous warnings of voice by Prophets and tangible reminders and occupations by the foreign forces of the Philistines, yet the stubbornness was overwhelming and God sends them into captivity for 70 years (1 Samuel 8).
· Anointing. This is the ritual of Jewish priests, commissioning a king with fragrant oil on the head to show they were approved by God, and a direct point to the One God would ultimately send. It is the Holy Spirit that does the real anointing (Lev. 4:3; 1 Sam. 16:1-6; Psalm 89:19-21; 105:15; Isa. 61:1; Matt. 1:1; John 6:15).
· Saul Fails and is rejected: 1 Samuel 15:17-23
· Saul. The first king of Israel; he, reined for 20 years and his palace was in Gibeah. He was picked because of his appearance--tall, strong for his military might--and not from the right tribe, Benjamin, because only from the tribe of Judah will a ruler come. This clan was under a judgment. He starts off great; he then becomes rash and foolish and falls to pride and paranoia, refuses to repent and is, ultimately, rejected by God for his arrogance and his impatience by refusing to wait for Samuel. Then, he realizes David was chosen and instead of being a help, he gave in to jealous rages and hunted David unjustly as David treated him with respects and spared Saul's life twice. (Gen. 49:10; Judges 19-21; 1 Samuel 15:17-23).
· Company of prophets. A school and group of ecstatic men that were trained and served at the religious shrines, both pagan and the Tabernacle. They rarely received direct messages from God and were mostly were false teachers (1 Sam 10:5-11; 19: 19-20; 2 Kings 2: 3, 5; 2 King. 4: 38; 6: 1).
· Evil Spirit? Why did God torture Saul? God did not torture Saul; Saul tortured himself. The Holy Spirit left him because of His disobedience (we as Christians never lose Him--a gift of grace we have now). To the Hebrew, this meant something was troubling Saul, not necessary being demonized. Why? To convict him of his sin to get him to return, repent, and do as he was called and empowered to do. Saul refused. The more he sinned, the more he suffered along with his family and his nation. The spirit was a tool to get him to wake up, just like a drunk sometimes needs to hit rock bottom to they sober up. This was also how David entered the service to Saul and gained his training and reputation. Because of Saul's pride, he was jealous of David, and instead of learning to be better and using David, he became enraged, stalked him, and intended to kill him. Naturally, this did not work out well for Saul (1 Sam. 16:14-24; 1 Kings 22:21-23.)
· David. The ideal king and a person who deeply followed God. The Lord was with him. As Saul sank in fear to Goliath, David, a runt compared to Saul, stands up to take him out. The key to David's success and favor was that he trusted in God. He will fail, but the fact is that he repents; Saul refused repentance. God as LORD is David's focus and strength, and he is rewarded for this. David spared the life of Saul twice (1 Sam 24:8-15). (more next lesson)
· Witch of Endor. After Samuel's death, Saul was desperate to talk to God. He needed God's wisdom on how to rout the Philistines, but he was cut off from God due to his arrogance. Saul seeks out a medium that God told him to expel; this was evidence of his further disobedience. Consequently, he received no answer from God except that he was in trouble (1 Sam 28:1-25)
· Philistines. Meaning 'Peoples from the Sea,' they suddenly appeared in the southern coastal area of Canaan during the beginning of the Iron Age and time of Judges around 1175 BC. Their god was Dagon, a merman like Poseidon and Neptune; Samson destroyed their temple, and they rebuilt it. God then sent a plague upon them. The Philistines were notorious drunkards who wreaked havoc. They are a mystery, with no ties or language to the Semitic peoples or the Canaanites. It is assumed their homeland was destroyed (maybe an island nation in the Aegean Sea done in by a volcano). They become the main antagonists; Saul's refusal to be rid of them becomes a burden to David and Israel for all times. They eventually were assimilated to the region and are part of the modern Palestinians. The name of the land-Palestine-is a derivative of the Philistines.
God looks to the heart. We honor God by our focus upon Him and His precepts which form our character and obedience. God looks to our hearts because the heart is where our thoughts and motives reside. God wants our obedience over sacrifice. Saul did not get this. (1 Sam. 15: 22-23; 1 Chron. 28:9; Psalm 50:12-14; 51:16-17; Jer. 17:9; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:7-8; John 7:24; 1 Cor. 4:5; Heb. 4:12-13).
Saul had excuses with a heart for other things and definitely not after God. He rationalized his behavior by lying for his justification, making his situation worse, and succumbing to the darkness of hatred; Saul was not good at anything else. However, it is important to remember that he needed to do was repent as David will do (Gen. 3:12)
Key Takeaway: When we trust and follow God, we have His approval and reward. This is a faithful person's motivation, as we can have faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That is why some of these Bible characters are great and why they persevered. They are the examples that we can follow, understanding that we can indeed do it, too. Their acts allow us to be encouraged to step up and not quit.
The foreshadow of Jesus Christ? Hannah's prayer of gratitude, obedience, and faith is very similar to Mary's prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus, called "The Magnificat." Also, another Saul from Benjamin will be chosen to turn from disobedience, repent, and turn to God to spread the Gospel and be renamed Paul (1 Sam. 9:1-2; Luke 1:46-55; Acts 9; 1 Cor. 15:3-6; Phil. 3:1-5).
Questions to Ponder
1. What is a faithful person's motivation?
2. Why was a boy named Ichabod?
3. What are some of the consequences of having a king over the people and not The King?
4. What do you see as God's primary call to His children? How do you show trust and obey His principles?
5. What can you do better to be devoted to God? Why is that call so often missed?
6. What gets in the way for most people to acknowledge Christ as their Lord?
7. Why is getting what we want not always a sign of God's blessing?
8. How have you sought to honor God? How does one's trust and obedience enables us to receive His blessings?
9. Why does every generation need salvation and conversion? Why does God not have any grandchildren?
10. What can a parent do, so we never assume our children will follow the faith without discipleship! How did this go wrong for Eli and Samuel? Why did they refuse to instruct their children?
11. What happens when one becomes ungrateful and forgets who they are and Who God is? How did the Israelites do this?
12. How do you feel as we make mistakes, God covers us with His grace and ensures goodness, if we repent?
© 2013 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org