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Tag: Saul

Chasing Donkeys

Well, we’ve been reading through the book of Samuel and we’ve now made it to chapter 9. And even though this book is called “The Book of Samuel”, Samuel actually isn’t the focus of the majority of the book.

Of course, as you’ve noticed, in the first 8 chapters, the story did revolve primarily around Samuel (around his birth, life, and ministry) – but for the next 46 chapters, the focus shifts… and Samuel becomes more of a supporting character, while others take the centre stage.

And that shouldn’t be too surprising because as we noted last Sunday, the era of the Judges has now ended (with Samuel being the last of them) and a new era of Kings is about to begin.

Last Sunday we read how the people of Israel no longer wished to be led by Judges – they wanted to have king like all the other nations around them. Mind you, they already had a King – God was their King – and in reality, they were rejecting God as their King – not Samuel as their judge.

But to make a long story short, even though God knew that human kings would never serve Israel as well as He did, none the less, at their insistence, God choose to grant them their request and He agreed to give them a King.

And that’s just what we’re going to read about today.

1 Samuel chapter 9, verse 1 begins like this:

There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land. 1 Samuel 9:1-2

And I’ll just pause here for a moment because this is kinda interesting. In the chapter just before this, the people of Israel asked God to give them a ‘king to lead them’, right? They didn’t want to be led by an invisible God, they wanted to be able to see their king leading them into battle! They wanted a king that would look like a king.

And this fellow Saul certainly fit that bill! He’s was just the kind of man you’d expect to be king! As we just read, he came from a wealthy, influential family. He was good-looking – in fact, he was described as the most handsome man in nation! And on top of that, he was a goliath of a man! – standing head and shoulders taller than anyone else! He was tall, dark, and handsome – and wealthy to boot!

If the Israelites wanted a king that looked like a king – Saul would certainly be on the short-list! But of course, being a king isn’t all about appearances, but I just found it interesting that as far as appearances go, Saul was just about as Kingly as they come!

Anyways… let’s keep reading and let’s see what else we can learn about this Saul fellow. Verse 3

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Give Us A King

This morning we want to continue where we left off before Christmas – working our way through the book of Samuel. And it’s been over a month since we were last in Samuel, and so to start this morning, I thought I’d take some time to remind us where exactly we are in the bigger story of the Bible.

So far everything that we’ve talked about in the book of Samuel has happened during the time of the judges – Samuel himself being one of those judges – along with others like Samson, Gideon, Deborah, and Ehud.

And these judges were not like the judges you might think of today – sitting in a court room deciding legal matters (although some of them did seem to take on that role as well.) But these judges were really more like the generals of an army.

You see, during the time of the judges, the 12 tribes of Israel had no central government. They had no king – they had no standing army. They were really just a loose confederation of tribes that sometimes even fought against each other! But every so often, they would face a threat from a common enemy and they would unite together under the leadership of a judge who would lead them against their oppressors.

Now of course, those oppressors were usually brought on by the Israelites’ own sinfulness. Time and time again, the Israelites would rebel against God, and so God would discipline them by allowing these enemies to oppress them. Under that oppression, the Israelites would then repent of their sin and cry out to God for deliverance and God would raise up a judge who would then rescue them.

So these judges were not Kings or rulers of Israel per se, but really just temporary rescuers. They were military and spiritual leaders who would lead the Israelites to victory over their enemies and at the same time lead them back to God.

Now as you might expect, after these great victories, there were times when the Israelites wanted their rescuer to become their king! This happened to Gideon after he had rescued them from the Midianites. But Gideon very clearly told them that being their king was not the role God had for Him. If you take a look at Judges 8 verse 22, it says…

22 Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian.”

23 But Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!

Judges 8:22-23

You see, Gideon understood that the Israelites already had a king. God was their King! No other nation on earth had that privilege! They were a nation unlike any other nation on earth! The Sovereign God of the universe had specially chosen them to be His people. He would be their King and they would be His people.

And so Gideon reminded the people, that although God had used Him to rescue them from the Midianites – God was the only King who deserved to be on the throne of Israel. 

And so with all that in mind, we’re ready to pick up our story today in 1 Samuel chapter 8 – starting at verse 1.

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The True Condition of King Saul’s Heart

This morning we begin a new sermon series – entitled “Lessons from the Kings.” And I feel I should clarify, especially to the men, that we’re actually not talking about hockey. Although I am sure there are many lessons that we could learn from the recent Stanley Cup champions, I’m afraid the Los Angeles Kings will not be the focus of our study this morning.

Instead, we’re going to be looking at the Kings of Israel. Now most people can name at least one or two of the kings of Israel. For example, many of you know that the first king of Israel was King Saul. And of course, after Saul was the giant killer, King David and after David was his son King Solomon. And that’s just about as far as most people can go. Few people could name the kings that followed Solomon. But the Bible records the stories of 41 kings of Israel.

Now we’re not going look at all of them, of course, but over these next few summer months, we’re going to look at the lives of several of these famous and not so famous kings.

The king we want to look at this morning is King Saul – the very first king of Israel.

Now just to give you the background to his story, you might remember that before Israel had kings, they were led by Judges. We talked about these judges last September in our Heroes and Zeros series – guys like Samson, Gideon, Ehud. Well, the last of these judges was a man named Samuel. He had faithfully led the people of Israel for his entire life – and now that He was an old man, the people of Israel didn’t want another judge to lead them – they asked God to give them a king.

God agreed to their request and God told Samuel anoint Saul as their first king. But it’s important to note that even though Saul was to be their political & military leader – as long as he was alive, Samuel remained as their spiritual leader. He was still God’s representative – God’s voice to the people – God’s voice to the king. And that’s just what we see in the passage that we are going to look at this morning.

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Jonathan, His Armour-bearer, Six Hundred Men with Pitchforks…And God.

Last week we began a new sermon series – Great Battles of the Bible – because the Bible is just chucked-full of battle stories. We started off with a Sunday school favorite – Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. But this week, we’re going to get off the beaten trail a little bit and tackle a story that you’ve probably heard, but it’s not one of those Sunday School classics.

It all starts just a short while after King Saul is made the first king of Israel.

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