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The Matter of the Kingdom (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 4, 2022 4:00 am

The Matter of the Kingdom (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 4, 2022 4:00 am

The story of how Saul was chosen as Israel’s first king is fascinating. But how is Saul’s story relevant to us today? Is it merely an intriguing biblical history lesson, or is there greater significance? Hear the answer on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



The story of how Saul was chosen to become the first king of Israel is fascinating. But how is that story relevant for us today? Is it simply a biblical history lesson?

Or is there greater significance? Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg explains why we study these ancient stories. For Samuel 10, Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head, and kissed him, and said, Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the LORD, and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies.

And this shall be the sign to you that the LORD has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel's tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelsa. And they will say to you, The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys, and is anxious about you, saying, What shall I do about my son?

Then you should go on from there farther, and come to the oak of Tabar. Three men, going up to God at Bethel, will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand.

After that, you shall come to Gibbeth Elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now, when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Then go down before me to Gilgal, and behold, I'm coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings.

Seven days you shall wait until I come to you and show you what you shall do. When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, What has come over the son of Kesh? Is Saul also among the prophets? And a man of the place answered, And who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?

When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place. Saul's uncle said to him and to his servant, Where did you go? And he said to seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel. And Saul's uncle said, Please tell me what Samuel said to you. And Saul said to his uncle, He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found. But about the matter of the kingdom of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything. Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mispa, and he said to the people of Israel, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians, and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.

But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses. And you have said to him, Set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands. Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Metrites was taken by lot. And Saul, the son of Kish, was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the LORD.

Is there a man still to come? And the LORD said, Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage. Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, Do you see him, whom the LORD has chosen?

There is none like him among all the people. And all the people shouted, Long live the king. Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the LORD. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home.

Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor, whose hearts God had touched. But some worthless fellows said, How can this man save us? And they despised him and brought him no present, but he held his peace.

Amen. Well, imagine the consternation in Westminster Abbey. If on the 3rd of June 1953, when everything was in place for the coronation of Elizabeth II, nobody could find her. And when they went to look for her, they found that she'd hidden herself in a cloakroom. Of course, it didn't happen.

It would be bizarre if it happened. But it happened here in 4 Samuel 10. In Saul's case, in the inauguration of the monarchy in Israel, when they turn to do in public what has taken place in private, he's nowhere to be found. And the answer comes, Behold, he has hidden himself in the baggage. Runaway donkeys are one thing, but what do you make of a runaway king?

Now, you're supposed to be thinking like that, and if you weren't thinking like that, hopefully I've got you started in that direction. We're coming to this as an amazing record of God's goodness. It is a dramatic story. It is all true, and it is a little slice of history.

An important slice, as I want to point out to you. But there are certain convictions with which we come to all of our study of the Bible and not least of all to our study here in 1 Samuel. And some are visiting today, and you may wonder at why we would be doing this or why we would be studying something from the eleventh century B.C.

After all, we're very modern and even postmodern people. Well, there are a number of convictions. These are not all of them.

These are some of them. Number one, we have a conviction about the unity of the Bible. The unity of the Bible. That the Bible begins in Genesis 1 and 2 with creation, and it concludes in Revelation 21 and 22 with the new creation. And in between is the record of the fall of mankind and the chaos and the brokenness of the universe that has flowed from that fallenness. And in the midst of all of that, the story of redemption and the plan and purpose of God, to put together a people of his very own.

That's number one. Number two, that this unity exists not because it is a collection of religious anthologies or religious documents, but the unity is found in the fact that it is the one word of God about the one salvation of God in the one Savior, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thirdly, the conviction that we need our Bibles to understand human history and to understand our own little histories and our place in history. And fourthly and finally, the conviction that as we say often, the Bible is a book about Jesus. And so, when we take our eyes from Jesus, then we lose our way around the universe, but we also lose our way around the Bible.

And so, one of the questions that we are always to be asking is, how will this record of things lead me eventually to Christ? Now, as I say to you, with this in mind, I want to remind you that this tiny fragment of history is significant not just for Saul, not just for Israel, but actually for you and for me, and indeed, for the entire world. Oh, you say, that sounds like hyperbole to me. Are you really saying that this matters in relationship to the great scheme of things? And you're saying, No, I don't think so. Well, then, I suppose my task is to try and convince you. The chapter breaks in two, doesn't it?

You will see that if your version is the same as mine. First of all, in the first sixteen verses, a private anointing, and then, from seventeen to the end, a public proclamation. So, to this private anointing or this private coronation, the scene is set at the end of nine and into the opening verses of chapter 10.

It takes place, we're told, on the outskirts of the city. And all of the events that have preceded it have been, if you like, crying out for an explanation, crying out for resolution. Certainly, that would be true for Saul himself. And Samuel had actually stirred the mind of Saul when, back in the middle of chapter 9, he had made this Enoch statement about the place of Saul in the purpose of God in relationship to the expectations of Israel.

And last time we said we imagined that Saul was probably trying to figure that out when he went to his bed. I'm referring to the twentieth verse of chapter 9, incidentally. And for whom is all this that is desirable in Israel?

Is it not for you and for all your father's house? Samuel, of course, is acting according to the Lord's command. He has been commanded to set apart this man from the land of Benjamin, and he is to anoint him as prince over his people. So what we have then is this private coronation. The flask of oil poured on the head of Saul.

You will be familiar with this. This happened for the princes in the service of the temple. This is the very first time that it has happened for somebody—I should say, the priest, not the princess.

It is the first time that it has happened for somebody who is not a priest. Because this is the inauguration of the divine institution of the monarchy in Israel. So a flask of oil appears, the conversation has ensued, and Samuel gives Saul a kiss, perhaps a kiss of homage—he still kisses it where, the ring of royalty—and perhaps a kiss of affection. That's the coronation. There doesn't seem to be much to it, does there?

And then, the explanation. Has not the Lord anointed you, he says? He doesn't say to be king. Interestingly, he says to be prince.

Hasn't the Lord? There's something about Samuel he just doesn't want to say king. He didn't like the idea of a king, and he hasn't decided that he likes it even yet, so he's a somewhat reluctant member of the coronation party. Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince? In other words, I may be the one pouring the oil, but it is Yahweh who is doing the anointing. And the people are his people.

The heritage is his heritage. And now he is allowing you to have a king, but he's doing it in such a way that you will not be able to become like all the other nations. Because remember, that was what they were looking for. They asked for a king back in chapter 8 in order that they might become like all the other nations. It was in this that they were rejecting Yahweh. They knew that Yahweh was sovereign over the universe, but they wanted a king they could see. They didn't want an invisible king. They wanted a big, strong king, as it would be like, who would go out before them in battle.

And they would not be tied to many of the stringent requirements that represented the direct rule of Yahweh through his servant, the judges and the prophets, and so on. And so, at this point, the day is still to come when the judge of all the earth will inherit the nations. And we need to keep that in mind, that here, in this little scene of apparent insignificance, the unfolding plan of God is before us. Well, that's the scene, and that scene, then, is to be confirmed by signs.

If you're making notes, I have three S's for you under each heading. So there's private coronation, the scene, as it is described for us, and then the signs. So we have coronation, followed by explanation, now followed by confirmation.

God is with you. He wants Saul to understand. And one of the ways in which this is going to become apparent to Saul is when these three encounters take place. And it will be an indication of the fact of God's divine activity, superintending all these things and bringing them about.

Now, we're not going to delay on them except to note them. First of all, you will meet two men by Rachel's tomb. Rachel is a very significant part of the story to this point, and her tomb in a place that could be located. And so the point of reference is right there. And you will meet these men, and they will tell you about the fact that the donkeys are under control. Well, of course, he knew that, and the point would be, how would these men know to even say hello to me and tell me about the donkeys?

Well, it's a confirming sign. Samuel wants him to know that God is at work. And then in verses 3 and 4, when you get to the oak at Taber, you will meet these men going up to God at Bethel. And you will notice how very specific this is. So, it could easily—you know, if it wasn't going to come true, it would be really obvious, wouldn't it? It was two men. You know, if they showed up and there were three men, say, wait a minute, this doesn't seem right. And then if it said it was three men and they were going to give you five loaves and they only gave you two loaves, notice how very specific it is. And this shall be the sign unto you. You shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. Wait a minute. Are these swaddling cloths?

Because the word is swaddling cloths. Now, how many loaves are you giving us? We have two loaves for you. Yeah, but you have three, don't you?

Yes, we have three, but you're not getting three. You're getting two, and we're keeping the wine for ourselves. And so they'll greet you and give you two loaves of bread.

You will accept them. And then after that, you will meet a group of prophets. And you will meet them where there is a garrison of the Philistines. A reminder to us—just a little passing reminder—that they wanted a king who would deal with her enemy, and he's going to meet these prophets in the context where the enemy is still firmly entrenched.

And they will come down with their harps and tambourines, singing, Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me, something along those lines. And these signs will happen. And when the signs meet you—it's interesting, the signs are meeting you. Verse 7, do what your hand finds to do, because you need to know that God is with you. And after that, I want you to do what your hand finds to do, and then I want you to wait seven days for me until we continue with the rest of the program.

Now, there's a tremendous amount in that. There's a lot of study in thinking through exactly what it is that Samuel is referencing when he says, Do what your hands find to do. I'm not going to delay on it except to let you know that a number of the commentators suggest that what he's actually saying there is—the phraseology that he uses in terms of dealing with the Philistines is a suggestion that he ought to right there and then deal with the Philistines in that situation. And having done that, then he will come and wait for him.

Of course, there's no indication that he does that at all. And so you can ponder it as you choose. So the scene of the coronation and then the signs that confirm it, and then we have to say, Well, what is the significance of this? What is the significance of this? Well, interestingly, of the three signs, the only one that is then presented to us in real time is the third one. So, in other words, what we have in the earlier part is Samuel saying, This is what is going to happen.

And now we have in real time the description of the third one happening. That's from verse 9. When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. The Spirit of God rushed on him, and he prophesied among them. Now, this whole picture of the promise of the Spirit of the Lord rushing upon him and then it taking place, this idea of giving him another heart—here is where, again, a very wooden reading of the Bible would force somebody to say, Saul was no longer Saul, he was another person.

Because that's what it says. He made him another man. So now his name was Bill. No. That would be a wooden reading of the text. He gave him another heart. Oh, you mean, supernaturally, he had a heart transplant there—a physical heart transplant.

No, of course not. This is the genre in which we understand. We apply the principles of common understanding, and we realize what a simile is and what a metaphor is and why it's expressed in that way. Keep that in mind when you come to the communion service. This is my body, which was given for you. This is my blood that was shed for you. Why in the world do we disengage the use of simile and metaphor when we come there, when we have to apply it here and understand it clearly?

I'm just saying that in passing to help us. The Spirit of God rushed on him. Well, this is not unique. The Spirit of the Lord had rushed on Samson back in Judges 14. And when the Spirit of the Lord rushed on Samson, he didn't play the tambourine, but he ripped a lion apart with his bare hands. Well, you see, that's a very interesting picture. Well, it is a reminder to us that those of us who want always to come to something like, The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, or when he was given a new heart and explained it in terms of, You must be born again, need to sit down for a little while and not get crazy. This is not a picture of regeneration.

This is a picture of the endowment of the Spirit of God for the purpose of the glory of God. And nobody would have been more surprised than Saul himself. I mean, think about it. When he went looking for the donkeys, he had no clue what was going on. He was the one who said, Let's go home. His servant said, No, I think there's a man of God here.

He doesn't come across very, very strong, does he? And so when he got him, he found himself caught up in this ecstatic experience, and he starts prophesying as well, and he says to somebody, Hey, can I play that tambourine? Can I borrow your tambourine?

I want to play the tambourine, too. It had to be something like this, because the people started saying, Goodness gracious, what's going on with him? I think the significance can be gleaned from looking at the series of questions that flow from this, and I'll just point them out to you with comment and passing. Verse 11, The Spirit of God had rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, What has come over the son of Kish?

What they're saying is, we know the son of Kish, and he doesn't do stuff like this. So something has come over him that he's come with—what a strange bunch of people he's hanging around with with all the musical instruments and everything else. Well, of course, something had come over him.

The Spirit of God had rushed upon him. The biblical account of God's work in Israel is a true historical and dramatic record of God's goodness and providence. We'll hear the conclusion to today's message Monday. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. If you benefit from listening to Alistair teach the Bible on Truth for Life, you can also read Alistair's insights in his new book, Truth for Life, 365 Daily Devotions. This is Volume 2, a brand-new collection of daily readings that explain passages from more than 50 books in the Bible. Just like in Volume 1, which was published last year, Alistair unpacks God's Word and encourages us to live each day trusting in God's promises.

Request your copy of Truth for Life, Volume 2, when you give a donation, at slash donate. You know, we regularly hear from some of you who are looking for biblically sound books that you can pass on to your children or your grandchildren. So from time to time, we can pile book bundles for children of various ages, and you'll find one of those bundles on our website today. For young children ages 3-8, you'll find a bundle of three hardcover picture books that all teach about Jesus. There are two story books, The Storm That Stopped and Jesus and the Lion's Den. The third book is a Seek and Find board book. It teaches about eight important events recorded in the New Testament. I read this book to my granddaughter last week, and she was captivated by it. This is a collection we highly recommend for your own family or for you to pass on to a young family you know. All three books together are available for purchase at our cost of only $10. Look for them at slash gifts and browse the books we bundled for older kids as well. I'm Bob Lapine. We hope you enjoy your weekend and are able to worship with your local church – Monday, we'll hear about how our individual choices impact God's eternal purposes. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 13:20:46 / 2022-11-09 13:26:10 / 5

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