Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't Reject the One of Greatest Worth!

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Study 9 --- 1 Samuel 10:17-11:15

17 Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands.”

When Israel asked for a king so they could be just “like the other nations,” this was a rejection of their true king, the Lord. So the question becomes: will the Lord acquiesce to his people’s demand for a king? Will the Lord give them a king just like the other nations?

The answer to this question is yes and no. The Lord will give them a king, but this king will not be just like the king of the surrounding nations. Israel’s king will not wield absolute power (as in the surrounding nations) but will be answerable to Israel’s true king, the Lord. The Lord will remain as king over his people ruling through and over the human king he chooses.

We see this new situation of a human king, but who is subject to the true king of Israel, in a number of ways in this passage.

20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 23 Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home. 26 Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

First, the Lord is the one who chooses Israel’s human king. This is seen in the process of selecting the king by lots. Incidentally, John Woodhouse points out the parallel of this method of picking a new king to the Lord’s identification of Achan by lot. Given Samuel’s reproof of Israel for its sin (10:18-19), Saul’s inaction and disobedience to the Lord in the previous section, and this ominous selection method with its allusion to Achan, it is no wonder Saul is hiding!

Second, Israel’s king will not be like the kings of the surrounding nations, because he will be governed by “rights and duties” written in a book. The kinds of duties surely paralleled the duties already written in Deuteronomy 17:14-20.

Third, Israel’s king will be answerable to the Lord’s prophet, who speaks God’s word. Notice in verse 25 who continues to wield true authority in Israel---it is the word of the Lord through his prophet! It is at Samuel’s word that all the people leave, including Israel’s king!

I could go through the rest of this passage and continue to show how the Lord refuses to give the people the kind of king they wanted. Although the people wanted a different kind of government and king, the Lord would continue to be their king and rule them, but now through a human king.

One other theme we should notice comes in verse 27. There we read that some “worthless fellows” despised God’s anointed and chosen king. By calling them “worthless” we are informed of the Lord’s attitude toward these people. The Lord sees such people as scoundrels for not accepting and welcoming his anointed king.

A little bit later on these “worthless fellows” lives will be in danger after Saul’s victory over the Ammonites (11:12-13). For despising the Lord’s chosen king they deserved to die, but Saul spared their lives in grace.

The application for us should be obvious. We live in a time in which the Father has chosen the ultimate king for his people. His name is Jesus Christ. He has won a great victory over the enemies of sin, death, the devil, and hell by his death and resurrection. By raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand, the Father has given the human race its king. Just as it was a heinous sin for an Israelite to reject Saul, so it is an even greater sin to reject Jesus Christ, God’s anointed king.

To reject Jesus Christ is to align yourself with those “worthless fellows” we read about in our text. But this is a day of grace. Jesus did not come to judge us, but to save us. So there is time to repent and and gladly submit to the resurrected and victorious king.

But this time of grace does not last forever! The king will return from heaven and there will be an accounting. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 19:11-27 that is about this very thing. In the parable Jesus tells of a man who has departed to another country to become a king. But some of the citizens said of this king: “We do not want this man to reign over us” (v. 14). But when the man returned from the far country here is what he will say: “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me” (v. 27).

The man in the parable who goes to a far country to be crowned king stands for Jesus. At his ascension Christ received the kingdom from his Father and now he rules over all. But some do not “want this man (Jesus) to reign over them.” Such people are like the “worthless fellows” we met in 1 Samuel 11:27. Such people are “worthless” because they refuse the One who is worth everything! (see Phil. 3:8).

We live in a time of grace in which we can repent of our rejection of Jesus Christ as our king. But this time of grace won’t last indefinitely, so come to him and bow before him as your king.

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