Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Premature Kingship

1 Samuel 5-8

Often sin is not taking the wrong thing, but taking the right thing at the wrong time. It was always God's intention to share his divine nature with us (2Pet.1:4), but Adam grasped for it at the wrong time, he didn't want to wait for God's appointed time (Gen.3:6).

When Moses gave the Israelites the Law, he said they would have a king, (Deut.17:15) but they now demand this good thing the at the wrong time and with the wrong motives.

Samuel's sons (and obvious successors) were not perfect, but Jordan suggests the Israelites use this as an excuse to ask for a king.

As an aside, Eli (1Sam.3:13) and even the great King David (1Ki.1:6) are both highlighted in Scripture as being dodgy dads, but Samuel is never charged with such neglect of discipline and so we should be wary of trying to pin responsibility for his wayward sons on him.

Three reasons why Israel is wrong to ask for a king:

1. They want to be like the other nations
They have rejected the calling to be distinct from the other nations of the earth.

2. The king they were to have was to come from the tribe of Judah
Jacob had prophesied many years earlier that Israel's ruler would come from the line of Judah (Gen 49:10). Judah's line had been put out to grass for 10 generations, due to the illegitimacy of his sons (Deut.23:2, see also Gen. 38), but that exclusion was nearly over, as we saw last week. Nevertheless, the people won't wait.

3. The Lord was already their King
The only reason they had experienced disaster was due to their unfaithfulness to the covenant God had made with them. Even when the Ark had been taken by the Philistines, the Philistines had returned it after God had humiliated their god, Dagon twice. He then went out before them in battle and thundered enabling them to rout the enemy. God was still very gracious towards his people and for them in every way. It was they who had given up on him.

Nevertheless, the almighty God of everything created, seen and unseen, goes along with these truculent demands of his people. The king God chooses (Saul) comes from the Benjaminites. At the end of Judges, the Benjaminites had made themselves a stench in the nostrils of the rest of Israel. The way they are judged by the rest of the nation has many echoes with the way God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. Was God now using Saul as an opportunity to graciously restore the tribe of Benjamin? I don't know. Maybe.

Even so, Jacob's prophecy was, again, spot on (Gen.49:27). The glory of Saul's reign would be short lived. The temptation for material gain and the praise of men, would prove too much for him.

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