Tag: Samuel

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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Empowered through Love

Empowered through Love
Blessing from Hannah-Elkanah Interactions

Elkanah’s interactions with childless wife Hannah empowered her with belief in herself, husband’s love and care, and understanding she could represent the family as led from the heart. Her husband’s love despite apparent barrenness may have contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. She sought as led from the heart without reservation, found Prophet Samuel as her first child, and enough more children to confirm she was never barren. Her husband supported and stood by her as they fulfilled her vow and received abundant blessing for themselves and humanity.

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Reassured and comforted
Reassured and comforted
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Hannah and Elkanah interactions leading to the birth and dedication of Samuel provide a message on spousal empowerment through love. Elkanah assigned each of his two wives responsibility to manage the affairs of her sub-family under his care and supervision. When the weight of her apparent barrenness appeared overwhelming for Hannah, Elkanah tried to comfort her by promising to love and care for her enough to make up for childlessness. His show of love in these circumstances may have contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. Bitter from childlessness, she prayed boldly, without reservation, and vowed to dedicate the child, if God should grant her prayer, to a lifetime of selfless service in the House of God.

Elkanah could have taken advantage of the prevailing law of the land, the Law of Moses, to overturn the vow if he so wished. Instead, he stood by his wife as they fulfilled the vow exactly as she made it.

Child favored by God and people
Child favored by God and people
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Their child from the vow was highly favored by God and people: “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men” [1 Samuel 2:26]. He became a prophet at an early age, led Israel spiritually and politically through several decades, thus establishing a link to later generations starting with David that led to fulfillment of the Messiah promise. Furthermore, the couple had more children through Hannah despite her early temporary barrenness. Her husband’s love empowered Hannah with belief in herself, husband’s support, and understanding she could represent the family as led from the heart.

 

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Receiving Message from God through Parent

God may alert a child to an opportunity by prompting the child’s parent to pass the information as parental instruction, advice, or request. The information could be delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor child recognizing at the time that the information is a special message from God to the child. The child will receive the message and progress toward the opportunity if he/she has a habit of listening to the parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information.

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This study concludes a series on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. We examine information based on four previous sessions to understand what a parent and child need to do to ensure God’s messages to the child through the parent are delivered and received effectively. Each message could present an opportunity for the child to encounter a life experience or accomplish a specific objective. Therefore, the child needs to receive the message effectively in order to preserve such opportunity. The examples used in the sessions appear well suited for the study as they include information to enable understanding how the parent and child in each case communicated effectively.

Wandering in wilderness for brothers
Wandering in wilderness for brothers
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Based on information from Joseph Called to Mission and David Called to Mission, we learn that God may direct a person toward an opportunity by positioning a need in his/her path. The person will encounter the opportunity if he/she recognizes the need, commits to providing service to address the need, and perseveres. In the case of Joseph, for example, the opportunity was his call to undertake a special mission to Egypt. For David, the opportunity was to confront Goliath.

Also, we learn from the two examples that God may often position a need in the path of a child by prompting the child’s parent to pass information to her/him. He may provide the information to the parent clearly so the parent is aware the information is from God and is for the child. For example, Eli was aware that God wanted to speak to Samuel.

Father sends son on errand
Father sends son on errand
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Alternatively, God may prompt the parent one way or the other to deliver information to a child without the parent being aware of the prompting. The parent passes the information to the child as part of normal parent-child interaction but neither the parent nor the child recognizes at the time that the information has been prompted by God. This category of messaging a child through the parent is important because of being channeled through normal parent-child interaction. One example is Joseph’s father sending him on an errand that became God’s call to Joseph to undertake a mission to Egypt. In another, David’s father sent him on an errand that became God’s call to David to confront with Goliath.

The information could be passed in the form of parental instruction, advice, request, or any other form of parent-child interaction. This bible study focuses on understanding the behavior, attitude, or habit of a child or parent that affects the effectiveness of passing and implementing such information in order to encounter the opportunity that God is presenting to the child through the information.

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Messaging Child through Parent—Call of Samuel Example

God invited Samuel to be commissioned prophet. He sent the message through Eli, Samuel’s priest, teacher, and “parent.” However, Eli needed three alerts. He understood the message and delivered it to Samuel after the third alert. He informed Samuel that God was calling him, directed him on how to respond, and thereby granted him parental permission to respond. Samuel, on his part, received the message because he offered his attention to Eli persistently in response to what he believed was Eli calling him. He received the message because he had a habit of being attentive, respectful, and obedient to Eli.

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This bible study session begins our new series on parent-child relationships. Our purpose in the series is to study events and personalities described in the bible to gain insight into God’s expectations for parent-child interactions and relationships. We hope to understand information that God expects parents to transmit to their children as they grow up and how children should relate to their parents in order to benefit from the information. Today’s study on the call of Samuel fills a dual role as the third study in the series on Samuel and the introductory study for the series on parent-child relationships. Interactions that occurred at the call of Samuel lead to an understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents and expects children to be attentive, respectful, and obedient to their parents in order to receive the message.

Speak Lord! Your servant listens
Speak Lord! Your servant listens
Moody Publishers FreeBibleImages.org

God wanted to speak to Samuel to start him on his career as a prophet. He alerted Samuel but did not reveal himself or provide him any information until Eli became aware of what was happening and directed Samuel on how to respond. Thereafter, God revealed himself to Samuel and spoke to him. We contrast God’s call of Samuel to his call of Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah and note that the call of Samuel differs from the other three because Samuel was under active parental supervision when God called him to prophecy. Therefore, interactions during the call of Samuel provide insight into God’s expectations for parent-child relationships. For example, whereas he called each of the other three directly and revealed himself to them clearly the first time, when he called Samuel, he directed Samuel to Eli and revealed to Eli that he was calling Samuel. Eli provided the message to Samuel, directed him on how to respond, and by so doing granted him parental permission to respond.

Eli receives Samuel
Eli receives Samuel
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Samuel lived and worked under Eli as his priest, teacher, mentor, and parent. Although Eli was not his biological parent, he was effectively “parent” to Samuel because of being his supervising adult in every aspect of his life right from childhood. Therefore, based on the interactions between Samuel and Eli during this event, we can surmise that God used the occasion of calling Samuel to prophecy to also highlight aspects of parent-child relationship, such as respect for parents, sensitivity to parental needs, and the role of parents as a channel for God’s messages to children.

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Aligning with God’s Purpose—Hannah’s Petition and Birth of Samuel

Hannah’s prayer aligned with God’s purpose and resulted in the birth of Samuel to lead the beginning of a new phase in the life of Israelites. She did not “know” God’s purpose to align with it by any deliberate human choice. Instead, the misery she felt from childlessness and her resignation to God as the only source of relief caused her to lift her spirit toward God, close enough to be guided to a spiritual understanding of her need that was consistent with God’s purpose. Based on her interactions with people and with God regarding the birth of Samuel, we learn about petitioning directly to God, respect for priestly authority, humility, and interacting with a fellow human being facing adversity.

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Interactions regarding the birth of Samuel provide opportunities to learn about petitioning directly to God, respect for priestly authority, humility, and interacting with a fellow human being facing adversity. Hannah was grieved of childlessness and a feeling of loneliness due to people around her either seeking advantage from her adversity or asking her to accept the condition as a sentence to barrenness.

Birth of Samuel
Birth of Samuel
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

However, she did not succumb. Instead, she sought relief from God. In a moment of intensely focused prayer, she petitioned God directly and asked for a son that will be dedicated to serving God full time through all his life. Her prayer aligned with God’s purpose for a spiritual leader to unify Israelites through the next phase of their development. Though she petitioned God directly in the presence of Chief Priest Eli, when Eli scolded her for what he thought was drunkenness, she responded with humility and promise of obedience that moved Eli to join her prayer without knowing her prayer points. God granted her request in the form of the man we know today as Samuel.

 

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