Answering Elijah (Part 6)

Thanks for hanging with me through this very long answer to Elijah’s great question about my biblical basis for “mission.” Moving along…

So far we’ve covered love, Eden, flood and fame, Abraham and the books Exodus through Ruth. Now, the period of the kings.

Rejecting God For A King

Samuel was God’s spokesperson to the nation. When he was an old man he appointed his sons Joel and Abijah to be “judges” over the nation, but his sons did not “walk” with God – “they turned toward dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (1 Samuel 8:3).

So the elders of the nation went to Samuel and demanded he appoint a king so the nation could be better ruled and be “the same as all the other nations.” Samuel knew this was against God’s will so he prayed to God. And God said to him…

“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” 1 Samuel 8:7-9 (emphasis mine)

Samuel warned the people that a king would have the right to take their sons and daughters away from them, to put them to work in any way he saw fit, to send them to war or put them behind a plow in his fields, to take their land and property and give them to whoever he pleased. The king would be able to take a tenth of everything they owned and make the citizens his servants. The nation was warned that a king’s rule would fall short of the relationship they had with God and that they would one day cry out to God to be free of their king and would not be heard by Him (1 Samuel 8:10-18).

The people still demanded their way, saying they needed a king to “go before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20).

So God allowed the nation to crown their own king as He had allowed Eve to crown herself god in the Garden.

In his final speech to the nation, Samuel recounted the many times God had delivered them over the generations only to be rebelled against again and again. And yet, he said, the nation had still not learned to be grateful and satisfied with the rule of God alone (1 Samuel 12:8-12).

Samuel then extended God’s grace to the nation once more, telling them that if they and their king expressed faith in God through steadfast obedience then they would continue to be in right relationship with God. But if they did not, Samuel said, God would be against them and their ancestors (1 Samuel 12:13-15).

King Saul

The first king appointed was Saul. His reign was summed up well with 1 Samuel 15:10:

Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.”

God spoke wrath against Saul through Samuel:

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23

Because Saul rebelled against God by disobeying His commands, he was removed from office and replaced with David (1 Samuel 15:26-28). But, as has been the pattern of God’s mission so far, with wrath also came grace: God forgave Saul and allowed him to worship Him – position, not relationship, was lost (1 Samuel 15:30-31).

King David

David reigned for forty years, failing often but valuing obedience to God above all else. In response to his faithful obedience God promised David:

Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever. -2 Samuel 7:16