How exactly do the choices we make interact with an intersection between the two of us? Today on Truth for Life we will hear how Israel's request for a king played a key role in God's ultimate purpose for his people. Alistair Begg is teaching today from 1 Samuel chapter 10. Nobody would have been more surprised than Saul himself.
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 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? Well, of course, something had come over him. The Spirit of God had rushed upon him. The follow-up question, is Saul also among the prophets? Well, of course, he wasn't part of the prophetic band.
But what he was doing now made it look like he actually was. And so the incongruity of it dawns upon them. And when, in verse 13, he had finished prophesying, and he came to the high place, the question was still lingering.
Is Saul also among the prophets? You will notice that it is asked twice. And it became a proverb. In other words, it became a proverbial statement to describe something that was extremely incongruous.
We have no explanation for this. And then a man—it's quite interesting, isn't it?—and then a man of the place answered. This is one moment in the Bible, a man of the place. So somebody's standing around, and he gets in on the action as well, and he says, And yeah, by the way, who's their father? Who's their father?
This marauding band of crazies with their ecstatic nonsense and their prophecies and their playing these tambourines and everything else, and now Saul's engrouped in this. Who's their father? Well, nobody knows who their father is. But we know who Saul's father is. He's the son of Kish. What in the world is he doing? Is he actually among the prophets?
We think, well, it would be finished then. No! Verse 14, the man from—no, I was going to say the man from uncle—the man who is uncle. Where does Saul's uncle appear from?
I mean, this is terrific when you're telling this story. And then his uncle came, and your grandchildren are going, Well, where was he before? Well, I don't know where he was before, but he's here now.
And what's he doing? Well, the reason this is here, I think it must be, is in order to make clear to us as readers that nobody really knows what's going on, that his immediate family to this point have got no notion of what is happening to the donkey seeker, that people are trying to put the pieces together and they're asking these questions, and they say that nothing like this has ever happened before. And so his uncle says, 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.
But the uncle's not going to leave it at that. I think there's something in this. Remember we said that when Saul wanted to go home, it was the servant who said, I think there's a man of God.
In other words, the indication of spiritual perception in these stories often come from the most unlikely sources. The uncle seems to have a sense that whatever was said to him by Saul is presumably, if not the key, it is a key to understanding what's going on. And of course, he's absolutely right. And so what you have in the response of Saul is dissimulation. He doesn't tell a lie, but he doesn't tell the whole truth. Well, what did Samuel say to you? Well, he said, he told us plainly that the donkeys had been found. Well, that was true, but that's not all he told them. And then the writer tells us, But about the matter of the kingdom of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell us anything. Now, that little phrase, the matter of the kingdom, which is the title for my study this morning, is, I think, absolutely crucial to this whole drama. And here in this little statement here, But about the matter of the kingdom, he told him nothing. This now explains to us what was going on at the end of chapter 9, when Samuel has said to Saul, Tell your servant to go on, because I want to speak to you the Word of God. There is no record of what he said. But now we discover what it was he was talking about. He was talking about the matter of the kingdom.
That's no surprise, but it is clarifying. Now, in verse 17, we need to hasten on. We move from the private coronation to the public proclamation. Now, once again, I have three yeses. First of all, the setting, which is really the same as the scene.
What is the setting? Verse 17, Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah. Now, this ought to make at least some of us say to ourselves, I think we've been at Mizpah before, and the answer to that, of course, is yes, we have apostasy, confession, sacrifice, victory, and remembrance.
That was chapter 7, when they all gathered together at Mizpah. And now, once again, he has gathered them, and he's declaring to them the Word of the LORD. Remember, said what a tremendous leader Samuel was, in that he prayed for the people and he preached to the people.
And once again, he does the same. Having gathered the people, he said to the people of Israel, Thus says the LORD the God of Israel." This is the role of the prophet in every generation. The notion of prophetic preaching is surely just the unfolding of the Bible in such a way that says, This is what God's Word says, and this is how you might understand it in relationship to the world in which we're living.
In other words, it is brought prophetically to bear upon the circumstance and situation of the time. That is exactly now what Samuel does. He says, Now, listen, God says to you, I'm the one who brought you up out of Egypt. I'm the one who delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians, and you are the ones who have rejected me. Despite the fact that I save you from your calamities and your distresses, you're the ones who have said, Set a king over us.
All right? Samuel just can't let go of this. And he confronts the people with what is actually the case. Remember, their desire for a king was so that they would be like all the other nations. Samuel had taken it almost personally when they asked for a king, and God says to Samuel, It's not you they're rejecting, well, it's me.
They're rejecting me. They wanted to be like everybody else. It's a real temptation, isn't it? In every generation we do. Did you affirm your faith in Jesus as king earlier in the service, as you sang? In royal robes, I don't deserve, I live to serve your majesty? That's quite a statement, isn't it? Declaring the kingship of Jesus and his majestic rule and the great tug upon our lives, if only we could serve a different king, one who didn't make these demands upon us, one who had a different view of marriage, one who had a different view of sexuality, one who had a different view of this and a different view of that.
It's so hard to have this king. Well, if we don't want to be different, we certainly don't want to bow down beneath his lordship. Now, that was the issue. And so he says, therefore, in light of that, I want you to present yourselves before Yahweh, by your tribes and by your thousands. Now, the people would remember not only the previous scene in chapter 7, but they knew their own history, and some of them may well have been present in the context before, when in the sin of Achan they had all been gathered together in that way. Joshua chapter 7—I'll leave it for your homework—and they were assembled in that way. So now, in a very solemn way, the setting is clear.
Samuel gathers the people at Mispa. He says, The LORD was the one who delivered you, the one who set you free from your calamities. But the LORD says, You have rejected me as king. Now put yourself together in the thousands and in your tribes. Now, again, nobody knows what's going on. And they would have been nudging one another and say, I wonder what's going to happen now. Well, of course, what happens is the selection of Saul.
And we needn't delay on this. Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near. He'd already anointed him privately, but now God was using this process to reveal his will. The casting of lots was a common practice. And it was regarded—the result of the casting of the lot was regarded as absolutely final. And the reason was that the LORD was directing the outcome of what was taking place.
It's very unusual to us, but it is standard pattern. And by this process—weedling it down, weedling it down—we're down to one now. And Saul the son of Kish, 1st 21, was taken by lot.
But when they sought him, he could not be found. It's quite amazing. Now, the commentators go all over the place on this. He was a very humble man, and so on. I haven't concluded, and therefore I won't ramble at all. You can make your own conclusions.
He's certainly diffident. And as a result of that, they inquired of the LORD. They said, Well, have we got this thing wrong? Is there somebody still to come? And the LORD said, No, you'll find him. He's hidden himself among the baggage.
It's so good. I mean, who would invent this? Nobody.
Nobody. And so they ran and took him from there. We're going to have a king.
We're going to have a king. And they ran and they took him from there. You don't have the picture of this big, tall, handsome fellow striding out.
No, you've got the picture of him all. And he's big and tall, so it wouldn't be—I mean, he must have had a lot of baggage for him to hide there. And eventually they pulled the baggage apart, and as his frame unfolds, they're like, Whoa!
That's a big guy! Strange that he would be hiding like that, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upwards. And Samuel said to the people, Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen?
Well, that's interesting as well, isn't it? You wanted a king. You chose him. You chose him.
You chose him. Do you see who the LORD has chosen? All the twists and turns, the freedom within the framework of providence. Our liberty does not overturn the eternal purpose of God.
Their liberty in doing what they did as and when they did it is within the framework of the fact that in terms of the ultimate and primary cause, look at the king that has been given to you by the LORD. The LORD's choice is the people's choice, and so all the people shouted, Long live the king. This is the first time that we have him described in that way, in actuality. Up until now, both Yahweh and Samuel have referred to him as a prince of the people. But now he has declared the king. So, if that is the setting and if this is the selection process, finally, in a phrase or two, what is the significance of this?
What is the significance of this? Well, the scene ends, you will notice, not with a proclamation, by Saul. He doesn't stand up and say, Now we're going to take on the Philistines, and I have a great plan for my first few months as king.
No. What we have is Samuel, actually, at the forefront, telling the people the rights and duties of the kingship and writing them in a book and laying it up before the LORD. You have to do this as homework again for yourself, but you remember the use of the word judge. This is how Samuel judged Israel, and this is how justice in Israel was to be, and so on. And you will perhaps recall that we went back to Deuteronomy 17, and we saw there in the writings of Moses the plan and purpose for the day when the institution of monarchy would take place and that there were ways in which God's plan for that would circumscribe it. And it seems to me that Samuel now is essentially taking a leaf from that book.
It's the only way I can understand it. In other words, by making clear to people the rights and duties of the kingship—in other words, what can be done and what can't be done—and then being established in a book and laid up before the LORD in the context of Yahweh, what he's really doing is ensuring that although they get a king, they will not actually become like all the nations. And God is going to see to it that they're not. And then in verse 25, Samuel sent all the people away, each to his own home. And Saul also went to his home.
It's quite interesting, isn't it? That even now, this newly-crowned and proclaimed king is submitting to the words of the prophet. Now, that's the only way that this divine monarchy will work. Because Yahweh is king. Yahweh's word is the key. And therefore, whoever is said in a place of authority within the jurisdiction of civil rule has significance only underneath the Word of God. King, or no king, God rules his people by his word. And as we would expect in every kind of election, there will be people who are supporters, there will be people who are detractors. And Saul goes home, and he's no longer just with his servant but with the men of valor, whose hearts God had touched—God had touched Saul's heart and touched some others too.
But they do not actually hold sway. Some worthless fellows gave their ten cents as well. Now, we can't stop on this, but I leave it to you to ponder, and what's happening here, these worthless fellows? How can this man save us? I think it is probably this—that it was going really, really well until Samuel decided to tell the people the rights and the duties of the kingship.
Everything was going according to plan. We've got a king. Long live the king.
Let's go. Samuel says, before you go, let me tell you how this works. And as he explains to them the rights and duties, he's making it clear to them that they were not going to have in Saul a king who would make it possible for them to reject Yahweh as king. And so they were not going to have in Saul a king who would make them just like all the other nations.
And so the question that they ask is actually pretty good. How can this man save us if this is how it's going to be? In other words, how is he going to make it possible for us to be like all the other nations? If his kingship is going to be circumscribed in the rights and duties of the kingship, allied Deuteronomy 17 and the reaffirmation from Samuel, how are we going to get what we want?
The answer is, you're not going to get what you want. They were worthless. They were annoyed. This guy gets pulled out from underneath the baggage.
He may be tall. Well, what do we do with this, in conclusion? What we discover is pretty straightforward, isn't it? That it is the matter of the kingdom that matters. It's not the matter of the king himself in terms of earthly kings, whether it is Saul or David or Solomon—all of the twists and turns of history, all of the apparently random meanderings of donkeys, all of the human strivings and expectations, in and through all of that, what really matters is the Word of God, the Word of the King. And so, eventually, this year it will come to an end. We can fast-forward all the way to the time when the people are in exile, when Daniel, in that experience, lifts us where his eyes up above all of the mesh and all of the ruck of things, and he sees one like as a son of man coming down out of the clouds in heaven, and he's given a kingdom that will never come to an end.
And he says, Wow! We need to know about this. Living here in the exile, we need to know we can look back over our history and see what kingship meant in Israel, but there's a king who's going to come, and you go forward from there. And then one day, in geographical proximity to 1 Samuel 9 and 1 Samuel 10, Joseph's son, the carpenter, steps forward on the stage of human history, and his opening gambit is clear.
The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel.
That's why I say to you that this tiny slice of history is significant not just for Saul and Israel, but for you and me. Because either Jesus is your king or he isn't your king. Either you have bowed down before him and given yourself unreservedly to him, or you come here Sunday by Sunday, walking out and saying, What can this king do to save me? Or who's gonna save you if the only one who came to save doesn't save you? You see, that's why it really matters. The kingdom of God comes first in the person of Jesus, then in the preaching of the gospel throughout the world, and then finally, one day, strikingly and openly and universally, when all the nations will bow down before the king. That's why it matters.
That's why it matters to tell people. We make our choices, but ultimately it is God's providence that prevails. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. Alistair returns in just a moment with prayer. If you've been reflecting on God's Word each day over the past year using volume one of Alistair's devotional book titled Truth for Life 365 Daily Devotions, well, you'll be excited to know that Alistair has just released volume two.
There's a brand new collection of daily readings that you can look forward to benefiting from in the coming year. Alistair returns to the pages of scripture to explore passages that help us deepen our understanding of what the Bible teaches and always points us back to Jesus. Request your copy of Alistair's new devotional book when you donate today at truthforlife.org slash donate. Alistair writes in the foreword of this devotional book that God's Word is our spiritual food.
He explains that we need it every day, and so do our children, particularly as they become teenagers or enter the challenging middle school years. If you have a middle school child in your family or in your circle of friends, we'd love to put a set of four devotional books written specifically for this age group into your hands to give to them. These books present short daily readings that explain more than a hundred stories about Jesus from both the Old and New Testaments. Most importantly, young teens who now navigate a world that pushes hard against biblical beliefs will be assured that the Bible is true and that Jesus is a friend they can trust. Each of the readings are brief, just three pages each, so the devotionals are easy for students to fit into their school schedule, or you can use them for family devotions. The entire four book set is available at our cost of just eleven dollars at truthforlife.org slash gifts.
You'll also find gifts for children of other ages available there as well. Now here's Alistair with a closing prayer. Father, thank you. Thank you for the Bible. Thank you that we can never exhaust it. We may exhaust ourselves in trying to or even in listening, but your word is all that we need. Help us, Lord, as we go back about our business to do so as those who said, You know, I think today has to be the day when I finally offer up the sword of my rebellion, and I just humbly acknowledge that I desperately need this king, a king who wore a crown of thorns, a king who died in the place of the sinner, king who triumphed over death ascended to your right hand, the king who will come in power and in great glory. Lord, help me to this end for Jesus' sake. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-07 06:02:32 / 2022-11-07 06:07:32 / 5