Bible Readings for August 18
The introduction of a king in 1 Samuel 10 marks uncharted territory for everyone, raising all kinds of questions. How would Yahweh set apart his king, and what resources would Yahweh give to him to help him serve Israel well? How should the king himself act, and how should the people of Israel respond to their new ruler?
First, Samuel anoints Saul as king with oil (1 Sam. 10:1). The oil, however, was merely a sign that pointed to the greater gift that Yahweh would provide: his Holy Spirit. As Saul returns to his family, the Spirit of Yahweh rushes upon him and causes him to prophesy (1 Sam. 10:6). Through his Holy Spirit, Yahweh equips Saul with every resource necessary for shepherding Israel well.
Second, despite being equipped, Saul is nevertheless overwhelmed by the fact that he has been anointed as king over Israel, so he hides among the baggage rather than stepping up to his new role (1 Sam. 10:21–22). On the one hand, his apprehension speaks to his humility. But on the other hand, we should also see here the first signs that Saul judged his ability to serve as king on his own (inadequate) strength alone, rather than on the basis of God’s infinite strength. In contrast, consider how the boy David would later stand before the giant Goliath without hesitation, since he had already learned by experience how to depend upon the strength of Yahweh in battle (1 Sam. 17:34–37). The same poor theology that eventually caused Saul’s downfall here inspires fear at his introduction to Israel.
Third, the people of Israel respond to Saul in very different ways, although all of them make the same mistake. Some look upon his height and take his appearance as absolute evidence of his ability to lead Israel into battle (1 Sam. 10:23–24), while others look upon him and despise him, asking, “How can this man save us?” (1 Sam. 10:27). None of them look beyond Saul’s appearance to consider how Yahweh might lead them through him—Israel, after all, wanted a king so that they would not need Yahweh as king over them any longer (1 Sam. 8:7).
But through Saul, Yahweh begins to teach his people not only what a king over them would mean but also what their greater Anointed One (i.e., “Messiah” in Hebrew, or “Christ” in Greek) would look like. The Christ would be anointed with the full power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18), and, although rejected by Israel on the basis of his appearance (Isa. 53:2), the Christ would not hesitate to stand as Israel’s champion, battling the greatest enemies of God’s people all the way to death, and rising in victory at his resurrection.
All hail King Jesus!
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.