In I Samuel 8 we discover the story of Israel and their very last judge. Samuel is getting older and the nation of Israel was growing tired of being different among the nations (8:5). They demanded that Samuel appoint a king over the nation and in doing so they rejected the Theocracy of God (8:7). Though Samuel warns them again (10:17-19) and again (12:1-25), Israel is determined and Saul, the first king of Israel, is anointed. When Saul is first introduced we see a man who is humble, godly, and kingly (9:1-10:16) and it appears that Israel made the right decision.
Initial Success does not equal Long Term Blessing
Just because God didn’t immediately judge the nation of Israel for rejecting His authority did not mean there would be no natural consequences to Israel’s rebellion. In fact, Saul seemed to be the perfect person for the job. He was from the smallest tribe and therefore would not be a threat to the other tribes, he was humble and timid and would not likely allow this new power to change him, and he looked like a king with his height and stature. However, God always desires that we listen to those in spiritual authority (Hebrews 13:17) and wait on His perfect timing (Isaiah 40:31).
Right Thing, Wrong Time
It wasn’t that God never wanted Israel to have a king. In fact, under the leadership of Moses, God had made it very clear that one day a king would be given to Israel (Deut. 28:36). God spoke of the fact that there would be a king in several passages of Scripture indicating that this was part of God’s plan all along (Deut. 17:14-20). The problem was that they were asking for the right thing at the wrong time. David was to be their first king, not Saul! This was prophesied back in Genesis 49:10 by Jacob to his son Judah that the “scepter” would not depart from their tribe. When you look at the incredibly beautiful story of Ruth we see God’s hand in bringing about David’s dynasty (Ruth 4:17-22) as if God was actually working a plan. When one reads Ezekiel 37:24-25 its almost impossible not to see God’s eternal plan with the person of David and the kingship he would posses.
Waiting Upon God’s Timing
I have learned that the “when” is as important as the “what.” Yes, God wanted Israel to have a king but they moved ahead with God’s plan before God was ready. This is always a dangerous thing. We see it with Abraham and Hagar, we see it with Israel and Saul, and we see it in the lives of many Christians today. Israel would have avoided these problems had they studied their Bible (Gen. 49:10), listened to the counsel of their spiritual authority (I Sam. 8), and patiently waited upon the Lord.