Samuel told Saul: “‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else.’
Then Samuel went home to Ramah, and Saul returned to his house at Gibeah of Saul. Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel” (I Samuel 15:28a, 34-35, NLT).
Didn’t the Lord know what kind of king Saul was going to be? Of course He did. So why did He choose him? To contrast what the people sought in a king with the king of God’s own choosing. In appointing Saul, God gave the people what they wanted – a man whose outward appearance made him what the people thought of as king material: “Saul was the most handsome man in Israel – head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land” (I Samuel 9:2).
Remember, when the people demanded an earthly king, the Lord told Samuel (who was not only a priest and prophet, but was also serving as Israel’s judge), “It is Me they are rejecting, not you” (I Samuel 8:7b). So after giving the people their own choice of king, what kind of king did the Lord appoint? One “after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 13:14). One that would lead directly to the Messiah, the One True King, “the One who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (Revelation 4:8b).
Only Jesus both preceded and followed David. As God, He’s always existed; as Messiah, He came through the Virgin Mary, and as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He will one day return to rule and reign forever.
No wonder the crowd was so delighted when Jesus baffled the religious leaders by asking: “Why is it that the Messiah is said to be the son of David? For David himself wrote in the book of Psalms: ‘‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’ Since David called the Messiah ‘Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” (Luke 20:41b-44).
The Lord’s message through Samuel said that “today” the kingdom had been take from Saul and “given to someone else.” As far as God was concerned, it was a done deal, but for us humans, more time was going to pass before Saul was replaced.
At last “the Lord said to Samuel, ‘You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king’” (I Samuel 16:1).
And here’s where we come full circle back to where we began this study back in December. David may have been anointed the new king, but he had a lot to go through before he ever saw his ascent to the throne come to pass. He’d spend more time as a shepherd; a musician; an armor bearer; an errand runner; and simply being a kid brother before being crowned as a ruler.
Unlike Saul, a man who wanted power and fame, David wanted to please God. And the desire of David’s heart made all the difference.
That same desire makes all the difference in your life and mine. What do you want most – to please people or Jesus? Saul’s rise and fall clearly shows the brevity of a life dedicated to selfish and worldly pursuits. David’s life shows how a loving and forgiving God can use imperfect people to work His perfect will when a life is fully surrendered to His Lordship.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this study. I’ll be starting this study over while I work on another writing project, so if you didn’t get in on this in December or simply want to go through it again, I hope you’ll join us tomorrow as we begin again to look at the lives of the kings of Israel and Judah. I also hope you’ll tell others about this months-long study & invite them to join us. Blessings to all of you.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates