Why Did Israel Want a King and What Were The Consequences?
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos
I participate in a conference call on Monday nights where several of us gather to discuss what we have been reading in the Bible and sharing any insights God may have shown us so all can be blessed, This past week we were in I Samuel 23 looking at Saul and his trying to kill David and does in fact kill seventy of Godâs priests. The question was raised as to why Israel wanted a king in the first place, why Saul and what were the consequences of that action? We know God regrets ever making Saul king. His reign seems to be nothing more than one big disaster. Yet could something good come out of all this? Could one simple act of kindness change the course of history forever? I would like to address those questions here and see what we can find and learn. Enclosed find the article I wrote Monday night in response. Pray you all will enjoy and would love to hear any comments or thoughts any of you may have on what I will be sharing.
The original plan was for Samuel’s sons to succeed him even as he had succeeded Eli. However he had learned well from Eli. He learned how to hear the voice of the Lord and judge the nation righteously even as he approaches his death. However he also learns Eliâs bad habits and spoils his sons rotten so they turn out to be like the sons of Eli. In the beginning of I Samuel chapter 8 we see that Samuel makes his sons judges over Israel. However they are not honest men but instead follow after dishonest gain, bribery, and perverting justice. This caused the elders of Israel to come together demanding Samuel give them a king, in place of his sons as judges. Samuel is upset by this request and goes to God about it. God says they have rejected him from being king and for Samuel to warn them about what a king would be like and try to get them to change their mind. When they refuse to change their minds God says give them what they want.
In I Samuel 10 we see the choosing of Saul and anointing him as king. So what is the reason he is chosen? It says that Saul was taller than anyone else and there was no one else like him in all Israel. The man at this point is so scared of becoming king he is out hiding in the baggage. The Lord has to ultimately tell them where he can be found so they can go retrieve Saul and make him king. For the moment everything is cool. Israel has its king and is happy and Saul for the moment is obeying and following God. However there are major character flaws in Saul which would become apparent very quickly.
In I Samuel 13 Saul is told to wait seven days for Samuel to come before doing anything, Samuel is delayed and doesnât show up within the appointed time. So Saul offers up sacrifices and offerings even though he is not a priest and therefore has no business doing that instead of waiting for Samuel. Samuel rebuked Saul for his disobedience in not waiting and says the kingdom will be removed from Saul and given to someone after Godâs own heart. Thus we see Saul is already beginning to depart from God in favor of doing what he wants instead of what God wants . This will become more evident at the next assignment God gives Saul to do and which he again manages to botch up royally.
In I Samuel 15 the Prophet Samuel tells Saul God wants him to go kill all the Amalekites and destroy everything they own. Nice, easy, to the point, very understandable no way Saul could miss on this one. However Saul is big shot king whom no one is going to tell him what to do not even God. So he saves the best of the sheep and oxen, spares the kingâs life and the best of everything to âsacrifice to the Lord your Godâ. Please note Saul is not claiming he is doing this for his God or for their God but your God. He wants nothing to do with God himself so make it Samuelâs Godâs fault. In summation Saul at this point has no personal relationship with God and is in fact in his eyes anyway serving someone else’s God namely the God of Samuel. Then when Saul rebukes him for again not obeying God Saul as a myriad of excuses why he did what he did. In a nutshell it boiled down that Saul feared the people more than God. They wanted him to disobey God so he does. After all if he wants to remain king he needs the support of the people right? Saul is again told that God will take the kingdom away from him and give it to someone else. So Saul begins to fear that what Saul has said twice now will in fact happen and his son will never sit on the throne of Israel. So he becomes suspicious of anyone who could possibly be a threat to him, take the throne and fulfill Samuelâs prophecy. That is the situation when Saul meets David.
Saul first meets David when he volunteers to go fight Goliath and kills him. Saul thinks this great and is very happy about it. Also Jonathan and David become best friends for life. Together Saul and David begin their journey home after the killing of Goliath.. Along the way the women turn out to greet Saul and David from all the cities of Israel with singing and dancing. In their songs they sang about how Saul had slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands. Saul doesnât like that and instantly became jealous. Immediately he sees a conspiracy that they will give David the kingdom and from that moment watches him with a close eye. From this moment on there will be a state of war and mistrust between David and Saul and their descendants up till Rehoboam grandson of David takes the throne.
From the time of the meeting with the dancers there will be strife, discord, and war between the house of Saul and David. At times they can paper over their differences for a bit but itâs boiling just beneath the surface waiting to erupt again. At times Saul will try to kill David with a spear, other times in battles, or by enticing him to become his son in law by demanding a thousand foreskins of the Philistines in the belief they would kill him. When all that doesnât work out he chases David all over the countryside trying to kill him because he has managed to convince himself David wants to kill him and therefore he has to kill David first. Twice he encounters David in caves where he has gone to relieve himself and get some rest and David could have killed him and does not. Each time David reveals himself to Saul, there is a brief respite and Saul seems to repent but ultimately its back to the chase again which lasts until David moves to Philistine territory and Saul quits looking for him.
A couple of things we need to look at from this period o time when Saul was chasing David. In the chapter we looked at tonight I Samuel 22. Saul is convinced that his son Jonathan and David are in a conspiracy against him. He complains about it and how no one has told him about it. He claims they are all plotting against him. Doeg the Edomite then says he saw David consulting with Ahimelech the High Priest. At once Saul is sure there is a plot made up of the priests and David to overthrow him. So he summons them all into his presence and in spite of their claims of innocence and knowing nothing about any plot against Saul has them all slain.
In I Samuel 23 Jonathan and David meet. Jonathan admits that he knows David will be king after his father and he will be standing next to him. He also says Saul knows this also. Had there been any conspiracy between David and Jonathan this would have been the perfect time for Jonathan to defect, turn against his father and do whatever it would have took to take the kingdom from his father and give it to David. That never happens as Jonathan remains loyal to his father and dies fighting next to him on Mount Gilboa .
So what happens next? The civil war continues on with Ishbosheth the son of Saul being crowned king to succeed his father while David is crowned king over Judah in Hebron. David grows stronger while Ishbosheth and the house of Israel grow weaker. Ishbosheth is ultimately assassinated at which times the two kingdoms become one on the surface. . However at the time of the rebellion of Absalom a man from the tribe of Benjamin Shimei (as David flees from Jerusalem and his son), walks along a ridge cursing David and throwing rocks and dirt at him. He claimed God was punishing David for taking the throne of Saul and giving it to his son Absalom. Later after the rebellion is crushed and Absalom killed Shimei meets David first when he gets ready to cross the river and go home. He apologizes and begs for forgiveness. His life is spared on the condition he never leaves Jerusalem upon penalty of death which he agrees to. Then he has a slave runaway and Shimei leaves Jerusalem to go retrieve him. Upon his return he is executed by King Solomon. Once again things get papered over and everything seems well.
Shortly before King David dies they are at it again. In II Samuel 20 a man named Sheba from Benjamin decides to lead a rebellion against David. There is a civil war and Sheba gets himself walled into a city. Joab Davidâs military commander surrounds the city and makes preparations to destroy it. A wise woman finds out what it would take to get Joab to leave and spare the city. Upon learning what it would take the woman cuts off Shebaâs head and throws it over the wall to Joab so he will not attack and destroy the city.
This far we have seen constant strive between Saul, Saulâs tribe of Benjamin and David. Benjamin has always sided with Saul or his family against David and his house. That however is about to change because of David. David had made an oath with Jonathan to take care of his family after Jonathanâs passing. There is a lame man Mephibosheth who is the son of Jonathan. He was injured when his nurse dropped him fleeing for their lives upon the death of Saul and Jonathan. David takes him into his home feeds him and takes care of him until he dies. Many years later upon the death of Solomon and the ascension of Rehoboam to the throne there is another rebellion in which the ten northern tribes rebel under Jeroboam I of Israel. This time however Benjamin sides with the house of David and becomes a part of the southern kingdom of Judah
This is very important. Had Benjamin kept up its path of loyalty to Saul and hatred to David (which had been the pattern for the previous around 100 years) they would have joined in the rebellion and gone with Jeroboam. If they had done that one of the first acts of Jeroboam is to introduce idol worship to Israel. This is to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship. Thus Benjamin would have very likely become idol worshipers. However by siding with the house of David they remain faithful to the worship of the one true God of Israel. A few hundred years later another Benjamite Saul of Tarsus comes on the scene He becomes the Apostle Paul writer of about a quarter of the New Testament and a very strong defender of the faith.
In closing then the people of Israel demand a king and pick Saul for the job. After Saul meets David there starts a period of war and strife that lasts for around a hundred years between their families. Then King David rather than hold on to a grudge or seek revenge decides to be kind to a son of Jonathan even when he didnât have to be. The result is I believe reconciliation between the houses of Saul and David which leads Benjamin to side with David when the final split between the northern and southern kingdoms come. The end result of that is the coming of the Apostle Paul and the blessing he has been for the church and Christians. I find that to be very intriguing and fascinating how about you?
Pray you have enjoyed this any comments welcomed
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos