1 Samuel 10-11

Long Live the King!

“Then Samuel said to all the people, ‘This is the man the LORD has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is his equal!’ And all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!‘” ­– 1 Samuel 10:24 NLT

For the first time in their long and somewhat checkered history, Israel has a king. And the people rejoice. This is a significant turning point in the story of the people of Israel, because up until this point, God had been their king. He had been their sovereign rule, deliverer, leader, protector, and provider. But the people had rejected God as their king. Samuel makes this quite clear when he addresses the people on the day Saul was revealed as their king. “But today you have rejected your God who saves you from all your trouble and distress. You have said, ‘No! Appoint a king over us’ (1 Samuel 10:19 NET). Saul was obviously chosen by God. He was handpicked by God as the answer to the peoples’ demand for a king. And he appears to be a good choice at the onset. He appears humble, hardworking, a capable leader, and has the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He handles his first crisis calmly and effectively in defeating the Ammonites. He treats even his detractors with patience and self-control, ensuring unity in a time when the nation of Israel was divided.

Chapter 11 ends with the people offering sacrifices to God and rejoicing greatly over the latest turn of events. They have the king they wanted. All is well in Israel. But we know that’s not the end of the story. Thing are off to a great start with Saul, but it won’t take long for all that to change. We cannot lose sight of the fact that God was their real king. Saul was a poor substitute for God. Yes, he was appointed by God, anointed by Saul, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, but he was still a man. An imperfect man whose flaws would eventually show up. Every king Israel ever had was marked by flaws. Some were faithful to Yahweh. Others were unfaithful. But all were human and sinful. Yet they were God’s viceroys, His agents and representatives here on earth. They were to answer to Him. They were to rule on His behalf and at His pleasure. They ruled and reigned only as long as God allowed them to. And Saul would be the first illustration of this sometimes tenuous relationship.

“Long live the king!” What if this had been the cry of the people regarding God Himself? What if the people had learned to acknowledge God as their one true king? Obviously, God was not surprised by the peoples’ demand for a king. God had already planned for this to happen. He had ordained the reigns of David and Saul. He was already aware that there would be a whole line of kings who would rule unfaithfully and lead the people into idolatry. He knew the kingdom would one day split. God was in control. He was still king, whether the people admitted it or not. He would always be king. He is always in control. And He is always trying to get His people to realize it. So that we might one day say, “Long live the king!”

Father, You are the one true king. Forgive us for the many times we forget that and bow down to other kings and powers in our lives. We sometimes crown ourselves as the kings of our lives. But like Saul, we make lousy kings. Help us to recognize Your power and bow down before You shouting, “Long live the king!” and really mean it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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