THE TALL MAN WHO WAS CHOSEN KING
I Samuel 8:1 to 10:27
WHEN Samuel, the good man and the wise judge, grew old he made his sons judges in Israel, to help him in the care of the people. But Samuel's sons did not walk in his ways. They did not try always to do justly. When men brought matters before them to be decided, they would decide for the one who gave them money, and not always for the one who was in the right.
The elders of all the tribes of Israel came to Samuel at his home in Ramah, and they said to him, "You are growing old, and your sons do not rule as well as you have ruled. All the lands around us have kings. Let us have a king also, and do you choose the king for us."
This was not pleasing to Samuel, not because he wished to rule, but because the Lord God was their king, and he felt that for Israel to have such a king as those who ruled the nations around them would be turning away from the Lord. Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to him, "Listen to the people in what they ask, for they have not turned away from you; they have turned away from me in asking for a king. Let them have a king, but tell them of the wrong that they are doing, and show them what trouble their king will bring upon them."
Then Samuel called the elders of the people together, and he said to them, "If you have a king, as do the nations around, he will take your sons away from you, and will make some of them soldiers, and horsemen, and men to drive his chariots. He will take others of your sons to wait on him, to work in his fields, and to make his chariots and his weapons for war. Your king will take the best of your fields and your farms, will give them to the men of his court who are around him. He will make your daughters cook for him, and make bread, and serve in his palace. He will take a part of your sheep, and your oxen, and your asses. You will find that he will be your master and you shall be his servants. The time shall come when you will cry out to the Lord on account of the king that you have chosen, and the Lord will not hear you." But the people would not follow Samuel's advice. They said, "No, we will have a king to reign over us, so that we may be like other nations, and our king shall be our judge and shall lead us out to war."
It was God's will that Israel should be a quiet, plain people, living alone in the mountains, serving the Lord and not trying to conquer other nations. But they wished to be a great people, to be strong in war and to have riches and power. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Do as the people ask, and choose a king for them."
Then Samuel sent the people to their homes, promising to find a king for them.
There was at that time in the tribe of Benjamin a young man named Saul, the son of Kish. He was a very large man and noble looking. From his shoulders he stood taller than any other man in Israel. His father Kish was a rich man, with wide fields and many flocks. Some asses that belonged to Kish had strayed away, and Saul went out with a servant to find them. While they were looking for the asses they came near to Ramah, where Samuel lived. The servant said to Saul, "There is in this city a man of God whom all men honor. They say that he can tell what is about to happen, for he is a seer. Let us go to him and give him a present. Perhaps he can tell us where to find the asses."
In those times a man to whom God made known his will was called a seer; in later times he was called a prophet.
So Saul and his servant came to Ramah and asked for the seer; and while they were coming the seer, who was Samuel, met them. On the day before the Lord had spoken to Samuel, and had said:
"To-morrow, about this time, I will send you a man out of the tribe of Benjamin, and you shall make him the prince of my people, and he shall save my people from the Philistines."
And when Samuel saw this tall and noble-looking young man coming to meet him, he heard the Lord's voice, saying:
"This is the man of whom I spoke to you. He is the one that shall rule over my people."
Then Saul came near to Samuel, not knowing who he was, and he said, "Can you tell me where the seer's house is?" And Samuel answered Saul, "I am the seer; come with me up to the hill. We are to have an offering and a feast there. As for the asses that were lost three days ago, do not be troubled about them, for they have been found. But on whom is the desire of all Israel? Is it not on you and on your father's house?" Saul could not think what the seer meant in those last words. He said, "Is not my tribe of Benjamin the smallest of all the tribes? And is not my family the least of all the families in the tribe? Why do you say such things to me?"
But Samuel led Saul and his servant into the best room at his house; at the table, where thirty had been invited, he gave Saul the best place, and he put before him the choicest of the meat, and he said, "This has been kept for you of all those invited to the feast."
That night Saul and his servant slept in the best room, which was on the roof of Samuel's house. And the next morning Samuel sent the servant on while he spoke with Saul alone. He brought out a vial of oil and poured it on Saul's head, and said:
"The Lord has anointed you to be prince over his land and his people."