Tag: Samuel

When Promising Path Terminates—while Waiting for God’s Time

Army Career Under Saul Ends Abruptly for David

Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. A similar situation occurred for David, when he had to depart abruptly from Saul’s army to escape a threat to his life. David evaluated his judgment by assessing how Saul felt about him. If Saul was determined to kill him, then his only option would be to depart. However, if Saul really didn’t want to kill him, then he should stay and continue his army service. He consulted with Samuel and then with Jonathan and concluded he was no longer safe within proximity of Saul. Therefore, he departed and ended a career that hitherto appeared to be his path to kingship.

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Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. The termination could result in disappointment and confusion, making the person wonder if God was with him/her after all. Many people probably have personal examples to share. However, we forget personal examples for now and instead discuss an example from the life of David to understand how he responded in the situation and consider how the principles of his response could apply today.

Recognizing threat
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Recall from our previous study under Growing Reputation and Pains for David that David’s position as a high-ranking officer and commander in Saul’s army provided him opportunities to demonstrate leadership and grow reputation as potential future king of Israel. He cherished the opportunities as his positive reputation grew rapidly among the people. His service in Saul’s army appeared to define a clear path to becoming king of Israel. However, the service ended abruptly without leading directly to David becoming king. The service ended because Saul sought to kill David. Realizing his life was in danger within any proximity of Saul, David left the service to keep away from Saul.

But he didn’t leave the service as soon as he suspected that Saul wanted to kill him. He verified his judgment to determine the risk better before he departed. His actions indicate he would have wanted to stay if he could but departed because he determined he had to leave. He had to leave to avoid being killed by Saul. We discuss David’s experience to understand better how a person should respond when a promising path terminates without the expected breakthrough.

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Waiting for God’s Time—David Anointed King of Israel

Ten More Years as King in Waiting

At times, God does not reveal the schedule for fulfillment of his promise but expects the recipient to follow the schedule. David was anointed king of Israel but did not know how or when he will become king. He accepted the anointing as God’s promise and became king later following God’s schedule, though the schedule was not revealed to him or any other person. We begin a study series to follow the life of David as king in waiting, focused on understanding God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships while waiting for fulfillment of his promise.

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We continue the study series on The King and the People whereby we seek to understand God’s purpose for relationships between people and their government. The current study begins a sub series on the life of David as king in waiting. David became the king of Israel at the age of 30, approximately ten years after he was anointed. He accepted the anointing as God’s promise, though the anointing did not provide any information on how or when he would become king. Also, he understood that he would have to follow God’s schedule, though God did not reveal the schedule to him or any person, not even Prophet Samuel that anointed David. Therefore, David would wait for God to fulfill his promise in his way and at his time.

Shepherd boy to be anointed king
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We follow David’s life during the period to understand the events he encountered, how he responded in the events, and the outcome of each event. Our study will identify events that contributed positively toward his becoming king and those that appeared to contribute negatively. David’s life during the period teaches us that waiting for God’s time means working with God. His response in several events made positive impact among the people and built his reputation as a potential future leader.

Furthermore, we see David’s experience during the period as a manifestation of Human Relationship with God Regarding Work, where we discuss the understanding that God defines a mission for every person, divides the mission into task increments, and provides the person guidance to proceed with and complete the task on time. Each task, if completed, leads to a miracle and ushers in the next task. To receive and complete the tasks, one needs to stay connected to God by praying continually and living in the image of God. The study series will show that when David interacted with people in accordance with the principles of living in the image of God (e.g., see Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God), the outcome of the event contributed positively toward his preparation to become king.

In this bible study, we discuss the anointing of David to understand that God provided the anointing as promise to David but withheld the timetable for fulfillment of the promise. Also, we discuss a need of king Saul that opened opportunity for David to begin service in Saul’s army, thereby ushering him onto a step to begin training for leadership of Israel.

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Equality Under the Law—Saul Terminated as King

Saul Violates Basic Civil Rights Principle

Saul was terminated as king of Israel for discriminatory execution of God’s judgment against the Amalekites. He was commanded to destroy all. Instead, he spared the “good” for special treatment while selecting the “despised and worthless” for total destruction. Thus, he applied personal criteria to modify the judgment. Based on the termination of his kingship for the violation, we understand that equality under the law is important to God as a fundamental principle of people versus government relationships.

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We discuss interactions between Prophet Samuel and King Saul regarding God’s judgment of the Amalekites for total destruction. Saul was commanded to execute the judgment. However, instead of applying the judgment equally to all as commanded, he introduced personal criteria to distinguish between the “good” and the “despised and worthless.” He spared the first but utterly destroyed the other [1 Samuel 15:9]: “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”

Samuel rebukes Saul [1 Sam 15:23]
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Equal execution of the judgment, i.e., equality under the law, required destruction of all Amalekites and their livestock irrespective of any differences or similarities among them. Saul violated the principle by discriminating between the “good” and “despised and worthless.” God terminated his kingship over Israel for the violation: “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments” [1 Samuel 15:11].

Recall that Saul’s kingdom was terminated earlier for violating the principle of separation of state and worship. But he was allowed to remain king. Termination of his kingdom meant his offspring will not succeed him as king. But he would have continued to be king and served out his tenure if not for his violation of the principle of equality under the law. God intended his kingdom to last forever, as we discuss in Punishment of Saul Conveys God’s Promise. However, both the kingdom and his tenure as king ended much sooner because he violated fundamental principles of people versus government relationships.

For the execution of the judgment against Amalekites, equality under the law implied equal application of punishment. However, the principle has broader implications: such as equal protection under the law, which Apostle Paul used in his defense during trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea (Civil Rights and Responsibilities); and equal access to facilities of society, which David enunciated to settle a developing dispute among his followers regarding sharing of battle proceeds (David Proclaims Civil Rights Principle). In this study, we discuss interactions between Samuel and Saul regarding Saul’s execution of judgment against the Amalekites and his termination as king of Israel.

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Punishment of Saul Conveys God’s Promise

Saul Violates Separation of State and Worship

Saul was punished swiftly with termination of his kingdom over Israel when he violated a principle of separation of state and worship. The punishment conveys a promise of God’s intervention to provide relief against a government that violates his principles. He provided principles to guide performance of individual responsibilities in government versus people relationships. Any person (leader or recipient of leadership) that violates the principles will be punished for the violation at a time and in a way of God’s choosing. Therefore, it is important to remain faithful and committed to Godliness even in the event of ‘bad’ government. The people must believe God and rely on him to guide interactions with the government.

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The separation of state and worship (see previous study under Separation of State and Worship) introduces two principles in people versus government relationships. First, government does not have authority to regulate worship, therefore, has no role in a person’s relationship with God. Second, God establishes a hierarchy of worship leadership (referred to as the clergy in modern-day societies) independent of state authority. The clergy is self-regulating and determines the training and qualification requirements for its membership. A king (or any other person in rulership position) is not a member of the clergy unless duly qualified by the appropriate regulatory authority.

Apparition of spirit of Samuel to Saul
Apparition of spirit of Samuel to Saul
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King Saul violated both principles. He violated the second principle first when he assumed the authority of the clergy to lead burnt offering. He was supposed to wait for Prophet Samuel but “…felt compelled to offer the burnt offering” [1 Samuel 13:12] because he was overcome by fear of the apparently superior Philistine army. He believed that the kingship conferred on him the authority to lead offering, which was a violation of the second principle of separation of state and worship. Samuel rebuked Saul and informed him God will terminate his kingdom because he disobeyed the principle [1 Samuel 13:13–14]: “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue.”

Saul was not penitent after the violation and punishment because he went on to violate the first principle in a subsequent incident. The violation was that he failed to respect clergy independence. He was suspicious of an interaction between David and the priest of Nob, Ahimelek; assumed authority to interrogate the interaction; passed judgment against the clergy; and executed the judgment. On that day, he massacred 85 priests and destroyed their city, having accused one of them of conspiring against him with David [1 Samuel 22:13]: “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day?”

Punishment in Hungary
Punishment in Hungary
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We discuss Saul’s violation of the principles of separation of state and worship and his punishment for the violation. The punishment was swift and conveys a promise that God will provide relief against a ruler that disobeys his principles. The events provide two lessons regarding people versus government relationships. First, the principles of separation of state and worship are commandments of God. He frowns at any person that disobeys his commandments. Second, God has provided principles to guide performance of individual responsibilities in government versus people relationships. Any person (leader or recipient of leadership) that violates the principles will be punished for the violation at a time and in a way of God’s choosing.

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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
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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
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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
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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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