Remember back in Deuteronomy, where God knew that the people of Israel would eventually want a king? He told them that they would do it… and when they did it, they needed to listen to God, because he would select the one that is best for them.
During the time of the Judges they would call out to God to help them through some circumstance that the nation is going through. Often being enslaved or ruled by other/outside nations. However, after God would come to their aide, they would leave his side and worship fake gods and strive for selfish gain. The nation seems to be lost. They have no clear leader who stands the test of time and establishes normal for them.
There are priests throughout the land, but none are dynamic. None are calling the nation back to God. Is the book of the law being read. Are the children being reminded and taught who God is and how He delivered them from Egypt and what miracles He has performed. No.
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1 Samuel 1 – 2
We are introduced to Elkanah and one of his wives, Hannah. Hannah has no children. She goes to the temple in Shiloh and puts forward some serious prayer, promising to put a child into the service of the Lord if she is blessed with one. Eli (I like to think of him as an overweight, comfortable, tenured, traditional style, old school Southern Baptist Preacher.) thinks she’s drunk. He apparently has no clue. She tells him that she is indeed not drunk and is praying to God. (BTW, I am so thankful that we can have a direct personal relationship with God through Jesus.)
Hannah is blessed with a child. She does follow through on her promise. Samuel is put into Eli’s care. I wonder what she thought of that. Surely she knew how worthless Eli’s sons were, and Eli wasn’t real compassionate when he first saw her praying. That’s trusting God for sure!
God ends up telling Eli that he and his sons (because they were horrible priests) have been rejected and will die on the same day. (eventually)
1 Samuel 3
The Lord literally calls Samuel. Eli realizes that it is God and tells young Samuel how to respond. Samuel responds “Here am I.”
Love this verse. ALL of Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as prophet of the Lord. There is unity of some kind in the land.
1 Samuel 4
But, God still has some judgement to pass. The Philistines go to war with Israel. Interesting that THEY know the history of Israel coming out of Egypt, and the mighty hand of God that led them. They are afraid (especially when they hear that the ark of the covenant has come to the battle) but they are victorious nonetheless. They capture the ark. Also, Eli’s sons are killed. A messenger relays the word to Eli. He dies immediately too.
1 Samuel 5 – 6
The Phillistines put the ark in their temple and there is a humorous telling of their god Dagon who falls on its face in the presence of the Ark. The Phillistines are cursed. They want to return the ark to Israel. They load it on a cart and let some cows lead it away.
1 Samuel 7
Samuel calls on Israel to put away their foreign gods if they are truly returning to the Lord. Samuel started traveling the nation and judged it. He continually called them to direct their hearts to God.
1 Samuel 8
Samuel is older now. His sons are like Elis… they pervert justice and take bribes. The nation of Israel ask Samuel to appoint a king that can lead them (like the other nations have one.) God tells Samuel “they haven’t rejected you… they’ve rejected me.” God tells Samuel to warn them of what a king will mean to them, but to grant the request.
1 Samuel 9 – 10
Saul is chosen as king. He is annointed as king. He looks the part. Talks the part. The people love him.
1 Samuel 11
Saul battles the Ammonites and wins. He is reconfirmed as king in Gilgal.
1 Samuel 12
Samuel gives what he thinks will be his last press event. He reminds the people that they have their king, but he pleads with the people to not turn aside from following the Lord.
1 Samuel 13
Saul screws up and makes some offerings to the Lord by himself. He should have waited on Samuel, but chose to do it himself. Samuel prophesies that his kingdom will not last. Sorry Jonathan.
1 Samuel 14
Jonathan defeats the Philistines. Saul makes a vow that anyone who eats should be cursed. Jonathan is the recipient of this rash curse. Saul spares him. Saul is a coward in the end. Note the last verse: and when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he attached him to himself.
1 Samuel 15
Samuel goes to Saul and tells him that God wants him to destroy all of Amalek, but Saul ends up sparing King Agag.
The Lord comes to Samuel and says “I regret that I made Saul King.” Those have always been odd words to me. God doesn’t make mistakes. Apparently he wants to get across to Samuel the seriousness of the situation.
Samuel lays some serious preaching out in verse 22 and 23:
Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold it is better than sacrifice and to listen than the fat of rams.
Since Saul had rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord rejected Saul as king.
Samuel then takes a sword to king Agag. He personally hacks Agag up to pieces. Old man? I think not.