In God’s divine providence, Saul and his servant ended up in Zuph as they were out searching for Saul’s father’s missing donkeys. When his servant told him about a seer, or prophet, who lived there, Saul agreed to ask for this man’s help in locating the donkeys – he didn’t even know Samuel’s name.
The Lord had already told Samuel that Saul would be coming to see him and that he was to anoint Saul as the first earthly king to rule over Israel. “Just then Saul approached Samuel at the gateway and asked, ‘Can you please tell me where the seer’s house is?’
‘I am the seer!’ Samuel replied. ‘Go up to the place of worship ahead of me. We will eat there together, and in the morning I’ll tell you what you want to know and send you on your way. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes’” (I Samuel 9:18-19, 20b).
“You and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hope.” Where was Israel’s focus supposed to be? On the Lord God Jehovah. Where was it? On man. Don’t misunderstand Samuel’s statement as a commendation of the people; far from it, it reflected Israel’s rejection of God and their determination to put their “hope” in an earthly king that would make them “like all the other nations” (I Samuel 8:4b).
“At daybreak the next morning, Samuel called to Saul, ‘Get up! It’s time you were on your way.’ So Saul got ready, and he and Samuel left the house together. Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, ‘I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, His special possession’” (I Samuel 9:26, 10:1).
Some time after this, “Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before the Lord at Mizpah. And he said, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’” (I Samuel 10:17-19a).
It was impossible for the people not to realize how displeased the Lord was, but that didn’t affect their decision. “Then Samuel said to all the people, ‘This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king.’ And all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’” (I Samuel 10:24a, c).
Two chapters later we see Samuel giving his farewell speech. Don’t miss the important wording: “I have served as your leader from the time I was a boy to this very day. It was the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron. Here is the king you have chosen. You asked for him, and the Lord has granted your request” (I Samuel 12:2b, 6a, 13).
“The Lord… appointed Moses and Aaron.” “Here is the king you have chosen.” Big difference.
God’s way is the only right way. But sometimes, when we continue to kick and kick against His will, He allows us to have what we’ve asked for – and we learn a hard lesson as to why He didn’t want us to have it in the first place.
“Experience has taught me that the Shepherd is far more willing to show His sheep the path than the sheep are to follow.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates