God was finally giving Israel what it wanted, a king that they could see, just like the lands around them. They just didn’t perceive that they were different, not like the other people. They were going to crown Saul their king. God picked him out because he stood a head taller than everyone around him. You see, appearances matter to people. They weren’t happy having God be their king, they couldn’t see Him.
It’s ironic, but Samuel told them that their earthly king would require their horses, young men to form armies, a palace and much more. As humans, we have to be shown the error of our ways. One day they would have to be delivered from this king by an ignominious death on the battlefield, taking good men with him. When we put our faith in a man and elevate our leaders to equality with God, we are sure to be bitterly disappointed. Men at best, are only instruments to be used by God.
Saul seemed to have only a fuzzy sense of his calling, seeming to prefer the company of his donkeys to other humans. They had to look for him, finding him with the saddles and gear that belonged to the donkeys. When Jabesh Gilead was threatened with destruction, they had to go find Saul and he was out with the donkeys! Even though he had been proclaimed the king, he had not taken any steps to form his government. I think he really wished all this would go away!
When he did accept his responsibility and function as king and actually walk in the Spirit, he realized that his military victories came from God and he functioned as a deliverer to his people. God expected the King of Israel to function as a servant king, but Saul functioned his best when serving himself. He had a double coronation (once by Samuel, then again in front of all the people) perhaps because he was a double minded man. At his coronation, Samuel delivered a stirring address citing God’s faithfulness to them as their King, bringing before them their disobedience and rebellion. He then went on in 12:13-15 to say “you said to me, a king shall reign over us, when the Lord your God was your King. Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the Lord has set a king over you. If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you.”
How can they possibly think that God has not taken care of them and protected them? And now they wish to place their hopes in a mere man! They surely couldn’t think that bad leadership was their problem and not their sin and disobedience. History was a witness against their thinking! The king is not the key to their survival as a nation, obedience is!
Isn’t it the same for us? God has laid out for us the precepts of a life of abundance and we consistently make choices in life that goes against those precepts. And we wonder why our life has gone so wrong. Simple. Do what God says and experience His abundant life and blessing. It sounds so simple, why do we make it so hard?
An obedient heart, not the form of government we dwell under brings the blessing of God. I think the words of Samuel at the end of his address to the people of Israel at Saul’s coronation still hold ultimate truth for today: “Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” I Samuel 12:24
God’s commands serve as a test of our faith in obedience.
But lest we end this devotion there; verse 25 follows: “But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king!” God’s judgment is pronounced long before it becomes apparent.
Let’s wake up and live for God – eternity is a surety!