Israel Demanded a King
In our last story, Samuel shared about the sin Eli’s sons were committing at God’s temple. The story this week, “The Ark Was Captured,” is one example of the things they allowed to happen to the tabernacle and its furnishings. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of God’s presence with the people. As the Israelites battled the Philistines, they lost a battle quite substantially. Instead of asking God what happened, they decided it would be a good idea to go get the box of God, the ark of the covenant, and bring it into battle with them.
When confronted with this message from the battlefield, Eli’s two sons thought it was a great idea and sent the ark from the tabernacle to the battle. Not only did the Israelites’ strategy not work, but the ark was captured by the Philistines and both of Eli’s sons were killed during the battle. When the news of their deaths reached Eli, he fell off the stool he was sitting on and died as well. God’s punishment for their sin had been exacted. Samuel’s words had come true.
As priests in Israel, Eli’s sons were responsible for leading the nation in its worship of the one true God. Part of their responsibility would have been seeking God’s desire for going into battle. Instead of seeking God’s direction, Eli’s sons took it upon themselves to send the ark into the battle. God proved that He was the one true God and let the Philistines kill many of the Israelite soldiers.
God’s presence was always with the nation of Israel. The ark symbolized God’s dwelling with and among His people. The Israelites mistakenly thought that if they had the ark with them in battle, God would be there to fight for them. As the ark in the Old Testament symbolized God’s presence with the people, later God gave His people something much greater than a sign: He sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus is called Immanuel which means, “God is with us.”
Israel Demanded a King
1 Samuel 8–10
Samuel was a judge over Israel. At this time, Israel had no king, but they wanted a king.
Samuel had two sons, Joel and Abijah. Because Samuel was getting old, he let his sons be rulers over Israel. There was a problem, though. Joel and Abijah were not good judges like their father was. Joel and Abijah weren’t fair in how they judged. They were dishonest.
The leaders of Israel went to Samuel. “You were a good judge,” they said, “but your sons have not followed your example. We don’t want them to lead us; we want a king!” The other nations around Israel had kings, and the Israelites wanted one too.
Samuel wasn’t sure how to respond, so he prayed to God.
“Samuel, give the people what they want,” God said. “They are not rejecting you; they are rejecting Me as King. Give them what they want, but make sure you warn them what it will be like to have an earthly king.”
Samuel explained to the Israelites what rights an earthly king would have. A king could make their sons serve in the army, he could make their daughters work for him, or he could take away their fields and servants. Samuel warned the people that they would regret asking for a king, but the Israelites didn’t care. “Give us a king!” they replied.
Meanwhile, a wealthy man named Kish was looking for some of his donkeys that had wandered off. Kish told his son Saul to take a servant with him and search for the missing animals. Saul stood out among his peers; he was taller and more attractive than any of the other Israelites. Despite his search, Saul was unable to find the donkeys. He was ready to give up.
“Wait,” his servant said. “There is a man of God in this city. Let’s talk to him; maybe he knows where we could find the donkeys.” Saul and his servant found the man of God—it was Samuel!
“Don’t worry about the donkeys,” Samuel said. “They have been found.” Samuel invited Saul to have dinner with him. The next morning, Samuel told Saul that God had chosen Saul to be the king of Israel. Saul was surprised because he was from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel.
Samuel used oil to anoint Saul. “You will be king!” Samuel said. Samuel gave Saul some instructions and sent him home. The Spirit of God was with Saul.
Some time later, Samuel gathered the Israelites to present Saul, their new king. But where was Saul? They couldn’t find him. God said, “There he is, hidden among the supplies.” The people ran to get Saul, and Saul stood among all the people. “Long live the king!” they said.
Christ Connection: The Israelites demanded a king, so Samuel anointed Saul. God intended for a heavenly king to rule over them, but the Israelites didn’t trust God’s plan. God had a plan to one day send His Son, Jesus,
to rule the entire world. Jesus would be the perfect King who would bring peace and salvation to the world.