Tag: King

Separation of State and Worship

Samuel Addresses Israel at Inauguration of King Saul

Prophet Samuel explained the principle of separation of state and worship in his formal address at the inauguration of Saul as first king of Israel. He explained God delegated state functions and authority to government but expects every individual to relate to him directly based on the covenant. He will be God to every person that lives up to the covenant but will turn his back against those that don’t. Government is not an intermediary and does not have authority to regulate worship.

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Samuel spoke to Israel at the inauguration of King Saul to explain their relationship with God in the new era that includes “a king as your leader” [1 Samuel 12:1]. He explained that hitherto God had been both God and king to them but from now on has delegated to the king the state functions and authority to perform the functions (see previous bible study under Authority of Government—Israel Asks for King). However, he remains their God and holds everyone by covenant to worship and serve him. He will be God to those that “fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart” [1 Samuel 12:24] but will turn his back to those that “persist in doing evil.” Every person including the king is individually responsible to live up to the covenant. Thus, every person has opportunity to relate to God directly. The government (king, in this case) is responsible for state functions but is not an intermediary and does not have authority in the people’s relationship with God.

Modern day inauguration
Modern day inauguration of new government
wikipedia.org

Thus, Samuel defined the principle of separation of state and worship. The government has responsibility for state functions and authority to perform the functions but does not have authority to regulate worship. Instead, every person is individually responsible and free to choose a relationship with God based on his covenant (conditional promise) to be God to those that worship and serve him. Also, Samuel used the occasion to illustrate accountability of state leadership to the people by inviting public examination of his record of service before God, the new king, and all people [1 Samuel 12:3]: “Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”

We discuss Samuel’s formal handover of state functions to Saul and declaration of the principle of separation of state and worship. He performed both functions as part of his formal address during the inauguration of Saul as first king of Israel.

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Government for All—Supporters and Opposition Alike

King Saul Declares for Peace and Unity

The people of Israel chose Saul to be king through election-by-lot. Some people supported the choice, others opposed, while several just accepted. Saul declared for peace and invited the people to unite under his leadership. The events illustrate government is for all irrespective of support for the election result, opposition against, or acceptance without complaint. Samuel assembled the people thereafter to reconfirm Saul as king and celebrate the process of choosing their own ruler.

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We conclude a two-part study on the formation of government based on biblical accounts of making Saul first king of Israel. The first part of the study (Call to Rulership—Saul Anointed King) led to understanding that God selects a ruler for a people but also allows them freedom to choose their ruler. In the case of Israel and Saul, the choice of the people aligned with the choice of God. The current study focuses on the people choosing Saul and confirming him king not knowing God selected him prior to the election.

Direct democracy in Switzerland
Direct democracy in Switzerland
wikipedia.org

After his anointing, Saul was introduced to the people through an event that presented him as special and placed his name on several minds among the people of Israel. Thereafter, Samuel invited the people to assemble at Mizpah to choose a ruler. They chose Saul through a process of direct democracy. However, though the choice was clear and unambiguous, there was lack of unanimity: some people supported Saul but others did not. Furthermore, some of the people that did not support him expressed strong disappointment with the election result.

Therefore, the outcome of choosing a ruler caused a division among the people. We discuss an event that brought the disagreement to the surface and provided Saul an opportunity to address the division. He declared for peace and invited the people through his deed to unite under his leadership. Thereafter, Samuel assembled them again to install the new king and celebrate the process of choosing their own ruler.

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Call to Rulership—Saul Anointed King

Samuel Anoints Saul to be First King of Israel

God calls a person to rule a people as king, queen, president, prime minister, governor, mayor, or other similar positions. Through the call, he tasks the person to lead the people toward a specific objective. A person so called will know because God will choose a way to communicate to him or her effectively. However, the information is held confidential: revealed only to a select few, thus preserving the people’s freedom to choose their ruler. Therefore, a person called to rulership still needs to win the people’s choice to become ruler.

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The biblical account of making Saul first king of Israel illustrates a three-step process for elevating a person to rulership: Call, election, and inauguration.

Samuel anoints Saul to be king
Samuel anoints Saul to be king
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

The first step is the call: God calls a person to rule a people. In the case of Saul, the call was manifested through Prophet Samuel anointing him to be king. God selected Saul and directed Samuel to anoint him. Samuel did not know Saul but prepared to meet him at a dinner event. On his part, Saul set out from his home on a normal errand but a sequence of events during the errand led him to Samuel and the anointing to become king of Israel. The anointing was private, known only to Samuel and Saul. Furthermore, although the anointing set Saul on a path to becoming king, he did not become king until the people chose him.

In a separate event after his anointing, the people of Israel chose Saul to be king without knowing that God selected him. The event illustrates the second step in the process of making a person ruler: that is, the election, whereby the people choose a person to the rulership position. The call and the election are independent from a human viewpoint because the people are generally unaware of God’s selection. The people were free to choose and chose Saul but did not know that God had selected him to be king. Therefore, we can understand that the people’s choice aligned with God’s choice in making Saul king, which leads us to wonder what would happen if the people’s choice should fail to align with God’s selection. The question is not answered in the current study but will be explored through future studies in the series.

Having chosen Saul to be king, the next step in the process was to install him king in a ceremony that present-day systems may refer to as inauguration.

The current bible study focuses on the first step, i.e., the call to rulership. We discuss the call of Saul to become king of Israel. The anointing of Saul illustrates that God may call a person to rulership, to lead a people through a specific objective; chooses how and when to communicate the call; and will reveal the information only to a select few.

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Authority of Government—Israel Asks for King

Samuel Responds to Israel Demand for King

Based on Samuel’s interactions with Israel regarding demand for a king, we understand the authority of government comes from God and is exercised on behalf of the people to fulfill government responsibilities. The authority includes collecting taxes, raising military and security services, redefining use for landed property, and representing the people in international affairs. The interactions define general principles for relationships between a people and their government.

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We begin a bible study series on The King and the People focused on understanding God’s purpose for relationships between people and their government. The study will be based on information described in the bible, particularly several messages that God sent to Israel regarding interactions with their rulers. We pray for understanding the messages to potentially contribute toward reducing the apparent gap in expectation between people and governments in several parts of the world. What should governments expect of the people and what should the people expect of their government? We believe the bible provides answers to these questions in enough details to guide our everyday interactions as government leaders or recipients of government leadership.

Spiritual leader and judge
Spiritual leader and judge
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

The study begins with Prophet Samuel’s interactions with the people of Israel in responding to the people’s demand for a king. At the time, Samuel was spiritual leader and judge over Israel: he guided them through interactions with God and in all matters requiring a leader. However, the people of Israel became increasingly dissatisfied with their form of leadership as time approached for a leadership transition. They asked Samuel to appoint a king for them, with the expectation that their dissatisfaction with the current form of leadership will be resolved through the appointment of a king: “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have” [1 Samuel 8:5].

Samuel prayed about their demand and received God’s direction to accept the demand: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you …” [1 Samuel 8:7]. Furthermore, God directed him to explain to the people that the leadership they demanded will come with certain authority and expectations: “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights” [1 Samuel 8:9]. He directed Samuel to accept the people’s demand for a king and their expectations of the king that they conveyed through the demand. Additionally, Samuel would explain to the people that the form of government they demanded will come with expectations and authority to compel them to fulfill the expectations.

Therefore, we discuss Samuel’s interactions with Israel in these events to understand how the interactions define government responsibilities to the people and people’s responsibilities to government. Furthermore, we discuss the source of government authority as defined through the events. Information from the events indicate God delegating authority to government to provide a range of services for and on behalf of the people, obtain resources from the people to support the services, and interact with the people according to rules determined by them through the government.

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David Anointed King Over Judah and Reaches Out to Rest of Israel

Responsibilities of Stewardship

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Has God called you to provide a service? Your responsibilities under the mission include making yourself acceptable to the potential beneficiaries so they can accept what you provide in line with God’s desire for their lives. We learn about this in a study of David’s interactions with the people of Israel after he was confirmed king over the tribe of Judah.

King in Hebron

After the death of Saul, David returned to Israel from Philistine city of Ziklag where he lived as refugee. He settled in Hebron, a city in Judah. The people of Judah confirmed him king over them. Recall that God had anointed David to succeed Saul as king of Israel. David therefore could not have been satisfied with being king of only Judah, one of twelve tribes of Israel because this was not what his assignment was.

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