Pretend for a minute that you are a black woman who grew up in rural Oklahoma. What would it take to convince you that you should run for president of the United States? 1 Samuel 9 and 10 describe an elaborate process that God takes Saul through to confirm his kingship to him and to the people. Saul is a reluctant candidate for king and it takes many proofs to convince him that he is God’s choice. God communicates all the signs to Samuel and Samuel relays them to Saul.
The prelude of Samuel’s announcement of God’s choice for king does not ring with enthusiasm. The people are determined and God provides them what they have asked for.
Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the LORD at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.” (1 Samuel 10:17-19 NIV)
Choosing the first king is not a democratic process. God decides and show the people His choice through a series of chance selections. Of course, chance has nothing to do with the selections. God determines one selection after another until God identifies the new king as Saul. Once the people bring Saul out of hiding they recognize his great height and this is enough to motivate a shout of “Long live the king!” No grand coronation awaits. Saul returns home and his reign begins.
Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the LORD. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes. 26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent. (1 Samuel 10:25-27 NIV)
The people had rejected God by insisting that He appoint a king over them. Some scoundrels went even further and rejected God’s choice. Saul chooses to keep silent about this rejection and his reign begins with a whimper.
What about us?
We get to choose our leaders through the process of voting. We understand from Romans 13 that no government authority occupies his or her position without God’s approval. This does not mean that God approves of all the things that our leaders do. It does mean that the choice of a particular leader is not a matter of chance. The response that some people have had to our most recent presidential election indicates a feeling that God made a mistake. Why do we so often think we know better than God?
It is hard to trust God when our culture is not moving in a direction that seems to be God honoring. I often wonder why God is not more active in removing the evil and suffering in our world. Then I pick up my Bible and begin reading and discover that what we are experiencing is nothing new. The Israelites thought that having a physical king would solve all their problems and bring peace and prosperity. They were right for two generations of kings (David and Solomon). From there the situation went sour in a hurry.
For many years we have thought that our form of government was the best that has ever been created. In thinking that have we misplaced our allegiance and placed our confidence in imperfect people instead of constantly praying and working for God’s kingdom to come? Until Jesus returns I will pray that God’s kingdom comes and search out ways that I can assist in that process in the communities where I live.