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1 Samuel 10:17–24

And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him Whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!” (v. 24)

In our final studies in February, Samuel followed God’s direction to anoint Saul as king of Israel. At this point, only Samuel and Saul know what has occurred. But the nation must be told that God has given His people a king as they requested. So Samuel summons all Israel to Mizpah. They are to come “to the Lord”; that is, to gather in His presence. God is about to meet with His covenant people.

At Mizpah, God speaks through Samuel, reminding the people of His mercy in delivering them from Egypt and from subsequent oppressions, saving them ” ‘from all your adversities and your tribulations.’ ” It is this constant mercy that the Israelites have forgotten in rejecting God and asking for a human king. Samuel already has made this point to the elders of Israel (8:10); now he declares it before all the people. But he is not offering them a chance to turn from their request for a king. It is too late for that—they have asked for a king and God has selected one for them. Still, the Israelites need to understand that Saul will not supplant Yahweh as their true King. They must know that having a human monarch will make them like other nations only in a very superficial way. Unlike all other nations, they still will be the people of God, and they still must see themselves as His subjects.

Samuel instructs the people to present themselves before God systematically, that He might make His choice known by the lot. This will reinforce the fact that the choice is God’s, not Samuel’s. In short order, the tribe of Benjamin is selected, then the family of Matri, and finally Saul himself. But when his name comes up, Saul cannot be found. Samuel and the leaders of Israel must ask God where their king is, and He graciously reveals that Saul is hiding among some equipment. Matthew Henry speculates that Saul hides because he feels unqualified to be king, he fears the envy of other Israelites, he understands the sinfulness of the people’s request, or he simply hesitates to take on leadership at a time of national weakness. But his hiding is as futile as was Adam and Eve’s in the garden. He is found, brought before the people, and praised by Samuel as God’s wise choice. And then, perhaps to his surprise, Saul finds that the people are pleased with him. He fits the image of an impressive physical specimen that they craved, and they enthusiastically cry, ” ‘Long live the king!’ “

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

The people of God today may resemble “the nations” in many superficial ways—lifestyles, hair styles, and so forth. But the differences are vast, for we belong to God. We are indelibly stamped as different by our justification. Commit yourself today to the lifelong task of learning to live as becomes a follower of Christ.

For Further Study
  • Matt. 6:24
  • Rom. 12:2
  • James 1:27; 4:4
  • 1 John 2:15–17

The Prophet in the Pulpit

Constitutional Monarchy

Keep Reading The Power of Preaching

From the March 2003 Issue
Mar 2003 Issue