Samuel was the last of the judges that the children of Israel had in the 400 year period following their placement in the land of Canaan by God as promised when the people left Egypt for their wilderness journey.
Samuel made great efforts to lead the nation in the ways of the true God but the people continued to follow the practices of the people of the land. Late in his life the elders of the nation demanded of Samuel that he provide them with a King like those of the nation’s surrounding Canaan.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us like all the nations.
1 Samuel 8:4-6
God saw in this attitude and demand of the elders as a rejection of Him as their King.
And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
1 Samuel 8:7
Samuel was instructed to listen to the people’s choice of king.
Now therefore hearken unto their choice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
1 Samuel 8:9
This was God’s warning through Samuel of the type of king that would rule over them and he would: • Take their sons to be in the army or to serve him; • Take their daughters to serve him; • Take the best of their farm land and give them to his servants; • Take a tenth of their crops for his servants; • Take the best of their servants and make them his servants; and • Make them his slave.
The people were looking for a King like the nations around them rather than a strong, fair minded and God-fearing King.They wanted a champion to lead them in battle; they failed to see that God had in fact done that for them and gave them great victories.
Their choice was an attractive figure of a man, tall and very handsome something which appealed to the flesh.His name was Saul of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9:1,2, 20) Although God directed Samuel to anoint Saul king it was not the Lord’s choice. He was giving them what they desired and requested.
It didn’t take long for Saul to show his true character and it was not that of a man who feared God.In a battle with the Amalekites God through Samuel told Saul what he wished him to do yet Saul chose to honour God in his own way, failing to follow God’s commands. The consequence was that Saul was rejected by God as King and told that one better than Saul would ultimately take the throne (1 Samuel 15).
God chose to select the replacement king for Saul and he was a man after his own heart. That man was David. The Lord Jesus told his disciples not to judge or make decisions based merely on what they saw, but rather to base their decisions on what was right according to God.
John 7:24 says: “Do not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgment”. God saw qualities in David that pleased him and although he was not perfect, David went on to demonstrate more often than not, these qualities of faith and righteous action in his forty years of rule upon the throne of Israel.
Illustration by Moody Publications (freebibleimages.org) CCA-4.0.