1 Samuel 9-10
There is a world of difference between, “Long live the king!” and “God save the king!” You can say the former while putting all of your trust in the man-king. But the latter requires faith in the Kings of Kings. It requires that you acknowledge a power higher than the one who is on the earthly throne. God knows we are tempted to put our trust in man so He gives us funny stories like the one before us today. The passage is 1 Samuel 9-10. It reminds us to say, “God save the king!”
The Text – A Summary
There are three main scenes to the story.
First, Saul looks for the donkeys. Saul was a young, handsome, tall, and wealthy Benjaminite. He sets off one day to find his father’s lost donkeys. After traveling through many regions of Israel with no luck he comes to the land of Zuph. There he determines to go back home without the donkeys as his father is likely getting anxious about him. But he hears there is a man of God in the city who can tell him where the donkeys are. He doesn’t have anything to give the man of God, but a servant who is with him has something to offer. So they head to the city.
Second, Saul meets Samuel in land of Zuph. With guidance, Saul crosses paths with the man of God. Unaware of who he’s facing, Saul asks Samuel where to find the man of God. Samuel replies, “I am him.” Samuel told Saul not to worry about the sheep for they had been found. After taking Saul to a meal and feeding him well, Samuel gave him a bed to sleep in that night. The next day, Samuel anoints Saul and gives him signs which come to pass.
Third, Saul is proclaimed king at Mizpah. Samuel gathered all Israel at Mizpah. Samuel prophesied that Israel rejected the God who saved them. This at the very gathering where they would receive the king they asked for. Out of all Israel, God chose Saul’s tribe, clan, and then Saul himself by lot. But, when they sought him, he could not be found (1 Samuel 10:21). He was hidding among the baggage. He hid well enough that no one could find him. Israel needed God to tell them where their king was hiding. After God told them, they went and fetched their king. He stood taller than all others. And all the people shouted, “God save the king” (1 Samuel 10:24).
An Uncomfortable Realization
Imagine the Israelite family journeying home from Mizpah. Dad is deep in thought. Mom is in the front seat a little nervous. Kids are a bit confused. “Well honey, what did you think about the gathering?” says mom. “Not what I expected.” Dad replies. “Why was the king hiding in the luggage?” the littlest asks. “You know I’m not quite sure dear.” mom comforts. “He sure was tall and handsome!” the young child exclaims. “Yes, and I heard he has even prophesied!” another kid says, “How did he do that?” “God sent the Spirit upon him.” Dad encourages. To which the oldest child hesitatingly asks, “But didn’t Samuel say we are rejecting God?” And the family was silent for many miles.
The passage is filled with humor. Saul was the new king who couldn’t find the donkeys. He didn’t know the well-known prophet when he stared him in the face. And he didn’t have anything to give Samuel for a guiding word about where his sheep might be. He was helpless and bankrupt, in the end hiding amid the suitcases. Then, there is Israel, calling upon the God whom they had rejected to save their king like the nations! You can imagine one of the Israelites who was still a bit tuned in, saying, “I hope the Philistines aren’t watching . . . they’d be getting a kick out of this.”
Putting your hope in man is not only sinful, it is just plain silly. Why would you do it? I mean, if the king is going to take so much from you (as we saw last week he will take, take, take), at least get one that isn’t quivering over by the duffle bags. But, that’s just it. The ungodly king’s cowardice and his greed are connected. They go hand in glove. He’s afraid and so he must take more of your things. And this cycle runs in the opposite direction with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. He fears not, neither has any needs, and thus He can supply your need—
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: Which keepeth truth for ever (Psalm 146:3-6).