Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog.
If we saw a word that we were unfamiliar with such as diaspora what would we do? Would we guess at what the word meant and move forward? No, we would look the word up wouldn't we? We would find a dictionary, now days online, and find out exactly what the word meant because guessing at the definition would get us no where.
In a similar fashion, guessing the definition of an unknown word can be like making decisions based on our own understanding. Just as we turned to a trusted source to find out the definition of a word we did not know, we need to trust the Lord and seek his will to make correct decisions in our lives. Proverbs 3:5–6
Trust in the with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
1 Samuel 9-17 History and Context
The first book of Samuel contains a historic announcement: "all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord" (1 Sam. 3:20). For the first time since the days of Moses and Joshua, the tribes became somewhat united, first under the prophet Samuel and then under the first two kings, Saul and David. Samuel was an inspired judge and a prophet, able to motivate the people to defense or to repentance. He influenced Israel to begin again to become the holy people they were called to be (Ex. 19:5-6).
As we learned previously, when the people first requested a king (1 Sam. 8), Samuel reasoned with them, comparing civil government to the government of the Lord and warning them against it; but they persisted, and the Lord granted their wish. Moving forward, Samuel was inspired to choose Saul, of whom he said, "See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people?" (1 Sam. 10:24).
But Samuel and Saul were not able to convert Israel to be the "peculiar treasure" and "holy nation" intended. Samuel's own sons diminished his potential effectiveness, and Saul deteriorated from a man of faith and humble confidence to one imbued with vain jealousy, violence, and spiritual degeneration to the tragedy of his suicide.
As Saul's behavior worsened, the Lord, through Samuel, chose and prepared David to become king (1 Sam. 16). Saul jealously tried to assassinate David, and finally, without divine guidance or hope, Saul went into his last battle against the Philistines and died by his own sword.
Part 1: Saul seeks guidance from Samuel and is anointed to be king. 1 Samuel 9–11
At this time in the history of Israel, the tribes were under the domination of the Philistines. They had no central government and even fought amongst themselves. They had no united strength and thus the Israelites wanted a king like those of the nations around them. Yielding to the Israelites' request the Lord told Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel's first king. Saul was "a choice young man,...and there was not amont the children of Israel a goodlier person than he" 1 Samuel 9:2
When the Lord spoke to Samuel about elevating Saul, he made it clear that the objective of the new king must be to "save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me." (1 Sam. 9:16.)
The infinite patience of the Lord in dealing with Israel in the face of their constant disobedience can only excite wonder and amazement. But he is God, and he had made covenants with Abraham, Moses, and Joshua to preserve his people. The Lord gave them constant opportunities to repent, and this was one of them.
Since the people had demanded a new ruler, the Lord determined to give them the best man available for such a high place, and to enable him by special blessings to conduct a proper reign. He would give the king "a new heart," bless him with his Holy Spirit, and even confer the gift of prophecy upon him. What more could God do?
Saul, the son of Kish, of the tiny tribe of Benjamin, was selected by the Lord for this position. The scripture says that he was a "choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he." (1 Sam. 9:1-2.) (Three Kings of Israel Mark E Peterson)
What did Saul do before he was anointed king and shortly thereafter that demonstrated his good qualities?
He was diligent in his search for his father’s donkeys (1 Samuel 9:3–4).
He was willing to listen to and follow the wise counsel of his father’s servant (1 Samuel 9:5–10).
He trusted the prophet Samuel and communed with him (1 Samuel 9:18–25).
He was humble (1 Samuel 9:20–21).
He was spiritually reborn, and he prophesied (1 Samuel 10:6–10).
He forgave his critics (1 Samuel 11:11–13).
He recognized the help of the Lord in Israel’s victory over the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:13).
The scriptures indicate that “there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he” (Saul) The word goodly seems to indicate many of the qualities that made Saul a logical candidate to be Israel’s first king. All that the Bible reveals indicates that Saul was honest, reliable, considerate of his parents, and altogether a very promising person for the great task ahead.
Goodly also described Saul’s physical attributes. In this regard, Saul was potentially the hero and man of valour all Israel sought. He was about a foot taller than those of his generation. Yet subsequent events show that the Lord was teaching Israel a lesson about people and about kings when He chose Saul. For the Lord certainly knew the end of this thing from the beginning, as He does in all things. Though Saul had, at first, a great regard for the law of Moses and for God, yet “the consciousness of his own power, coupled with the energy of his character, led him astray into an incautious disregard of the commands of God; his zeal in the prosecution of his plans hurried him on to reckless and violent measures; and success in his undertakings heightened his ambition into a haughty rebellion against the Lord, the God-king of Israel.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:2:79.)
Part 2: Saul offers a burnt offering without proper authority. 1 Samuel 13:1–14.
Two years after Saul was anointed king the Philistines gathered a mighty army to fight against Israel. Saul's men were so afraid that many of them hid and scattered. Saul asked for Samuel the prophet to come to him. 1 Samuel 13:7–8.
Why did Saul want Samuel to come to him at this time? Saul wanted Samuel to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people because they were very afraid
What was Samuel's response to Saul's offering of an unauthorized sacrifice? 1 Samuel 13:10–14