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!
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.