Continued from If Your Friends Wanted to Jump off a Cliff… Part 1
You will recall that when we were together last, Samuel was dealing with the Israelites in full-on temper tantrum mode, demanding a king. Samuel took his concerns, sadness and disappointment to the Lord who told him to warn the Israelites about what they were asking. Samuel did.
18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
– 1 Samuel 8:18-20
What do we do when our children or those that we know refuse to understand what is best for them, even after we have prayed about the situation? There are many ways to handle it, but the Lord told Samuel to let the people have what they wanted – exactly what they wanted.
Saul was the son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. One day, while on an errand for his father, Saul sought out the prophet Samuel for help with the task. Before Saul showed up, God told Samuel that a young man was coming.
16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.”
– 1 Samuel 9:16
Not only did God give the people the king they wanted, He knew what kind of king the people were looking for. He selected the perfect physical embodiment of what the Israelites wanted in a king – Saul was tall and the most handsome man in all of Israel. Unfortunately, though, Saul was one of these people that looks great on the outside but was not so great on the inside. Saul was a cowardly man who had trouble following the commands of the Lord. He was also the kind of man that forced things to come about by his own actions rather than praying, listening and waiting for the Lord to deliver.
As the leader of the Israelites, Saul had OK reviews from his subjects because of his looks, but a resounding “thumbs down” from God because of his actions. God gave Saul a chance and brought the Holy Spirit over him to help him early in his leadership. With the Lord’s help, Saul led the people in some military victories, but on his own, he did things that seemed to show that he loved and trusted in the Lord. Behind the scenes, though, the Israelite army under Saul did not really trust in the Lord – they were either cowering in fear or making decisions counter to what the Lord wanted. Because of this, God rejected Saul and Samuel delivered the bad news:
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
– 1 Samuel 13:13-14
But wait, you say, “Didn’t God hand-pick Saul from all of the Israelites to be their first king?” Why yes, fellow Old Testament reader, He did. God chose to give the people the Instagram king they demanded. God knew that Saul’s beauty would fade and his other attributes would become more important. He wanted to show the people that outward appearance was a poor way to select a king. Throughout Saul’s reign, he chose poorly and did not follow the Lord and the people began to realize that they needed a different king.
So, during the selection of the next king, God gave Samuel, the people and all of us a very important lesson:
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
– 1 Samuel 16:7
Eventually, the people realized that having what everyone else had isn’t always the best thing. They come to understand that someone with a heart for the Lord was exactly what they needed…It’s what they got next.