DAY ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY ONE : 1 Samuel 8 v. 1 – 10 v. 8; John 12 v. 12 – 36; Psalm 65 v. 1 – 13
Israel Asks for a King – In his old age, Samuel appoints his sons as judges – Joel and Abijah - and they serve at Beersheba. However, Joel and Abijah turn away from the Lord and become wicked (perverting justice, accepting bribes etc.).
The elders of Israel visit Samuel at Ramah and ask him, ‘now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have’.
Samuel is unhappy about this, so he prays to the Lord. The Lord tells Samuel it is not his leadership they have rejected, but God’s own leadership – ‘they have rejected me as their king.’
Samuel warns them what a king ruling over them will mean :
~ he will take your sons and make them serve in front of chariots
~ he will deploy them in his army or in the fields, or making weapons
~ he will take your daughters to make perfume, bread or food
~ he will take your best fields, vineyards, olive groves
~ he will take 1/10th of your produce for his officials and attendants
~ he will take your men/maidservants, cattle and donkeys
~ he will take 1/10th of your flock
~ you will become his slaves
Samuel tells them there will come a time when they will cry out to the Lord to rescue them from this king, but the Lord won’t answer.
The people are not put off by this gloomy picture of a human kingdom. They want a king, ‘then we shall be like the other nations’.
When Samuel takes it back to the Lord, God tells him to do as the people have asked. So, Samuel sends them home.
Samuel Anoints Saul – from the tribe of Benjamin, and from the family of Kish (of some standing), Saul is chosen – an ‘impressive young man without equal among the Israelites – a head taller than any of the others’.
Saul stands out – head and shoulders above the rest !
Of course, there are donkeys in this story !! Missing donkeys.
Kish sends Saul out to find them. Saul and his servant search all Ephraim’s hill country, all Shalisha and the territory of Benjamin. When Saul is ready to return home, unsuccessful, his servant encourages them to see the man of God who is in the next town (‘he is highly respected and everything he says comes true…perhaps he will tell us what way to take’).
Saul is worried about what they might have to give this man of God, but the servant has that covered too – he has a 1/4 shekel of silver.
So, they enter the town (after receiving some direction from some girls who had gone out to draw water), and find Samuel (the ‘seer’).
We are told that the day before, the Lord had revealed to Samuel that He would send a Benjaminite to him, and that Samuel was to anoint him as the leader of all Israel – ‘he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines’.
As soon as Samuel saw Saul, he heard the Lord’s voice confirm that this was the man to anoint.
Samuel instructs Saul to go up to the ‘high place’, where they will eat together, and where Samuel will reveal ‘all that is in your heart’. Even the donkeys (which they have been searching for over the last three days) have been found safe and well.
Saul is stunned that Samuel has such favourable words (‘to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family’) for such a small family from a small tribe.
They are sat at the table (with around thirty people), and Samuel asks for the food he’d specially asked to be laid aside for Saul. There had been faithful preparation for this moment, revealed in advance to Samuel.
Later, on the roof of his home, Samuel talked with Saul.
The next morning, as Samuel was sending Saul on his way, he asked the servant to go on ahead, whilst he had a private talk.
‘Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you leader over His inheritance?”
Samuel then reveals to Saul various encounters on his way home – he’ll meet two men at Rachel’s tomb, who will tell him the donkeys are safe (and father is now worried about his son, Saul); then he’ll meet three men at Tabor’s great tree and will receive two loaves of bread; then he’ll meet a procession of prophets at Gibeah, playing their lyres, tambourines, flutes (etc.):
‘The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.’
Finally, Saul is instructed to wait seven days in Gilgal, until Samuel arrives to offer sacrifices, before doing anything else.
Such precise instructions, and the foretelling of three encounters along the way – all to confirm to Saul that he is chosen by God for this high position. He is to be changed by the Spirit of God’s coming in power – changed to become Israel’s first king.
The Triumphal Entry – the day after that meal at Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s home in Bethany, Jesus heads back into Jerusalem, and crowds gather expectantly. Waving palm branches, they greet Him with
‘Hosanna ! (Save us ) – blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!’
Jesus rides in on a young donkey, fulfilling the prophetic word,
‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’
The disciples only understand what’s happening, and all the fulfilled prophecies once Jesus has died and has risen.
The crowd is made up of those who had witnessed the raising of Lazarus, and this sign itself had led many to believe in Jesus. Others, on hearing about it, were flocking to see Jesus. The Pharisees have had enough, fearing the whole world is turning to Jesus.
Again, we see the two extremes – faith in Jesus, ready to crown Him King of Israel, and utter rejection of Jesus, wanting to see the end of His days.
Jesus Predicts His Death – amongst the crowds gathering in Jerusalem for Passover are some Greeks, who ask Philip if they can meet Jesus. It appears that Philip (and Andrew) prompt the following teaching about Jesus’ death when they ask Him if He will meet the Greeks.
Jesus teaches them :
~ the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified
~ unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds
~ whoever loves his life will lose it, while whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life
~ whoever serves me must follow me, and my Father will honour the one who serves me.
~ although Jesus may love to say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’, yet He knows this is His reason for being, to glorify the Father
(Heaven’s voice is heard saying, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again’. The voice sounded like thunder; some even said angel-thunder!)
~ now is the time for judgment on this world; the prince of this world will be driven out
~ when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself
~ walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you…put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light
Then Jesus disappears. He hides from them.
Did the Greeks ever get to meet Jesus ? Do they exist in this story simply to show that Jesus is ‘for all people’, and the teaching about His death is in that context of ‘all the world’ benefitting from Him laying down His life to produce many seeds….
‘When we were overwhelmed by sins, You forgave our transgressions….
we are filled with the good things of Your house, of Your holy temple….
You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Saviour….
the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas….
You crown the year with Your bounty, and Your carts overflow with abundance….
the meadows and the valleys…shout for joy and sing.’