Divine providence and the first king of Israel. Studying 1 Samuel 9:15-16

In 1 Samuel 9, Saul is looking for some lost donkeys. What he didn’t know is that Samuel had had a vision the day before that will change Saul’s life. 

1 Samuel 9:15-16:
15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 

The ESV uses the word prince. Different translations use different words there. Prince. Some translations say leader. Captain. 

What this word specifically isn’t is “king.” In fact, that word is found nowhere in this passage. Pointing out that God is the true king. 

The providence of God

In this passage, we see the providential hand of God. 

The Lord is going to bring the future king before Samuel. 

Providence can be a complicated thing. Some could look at all of life as just a random series of events, with nothing being connected.

In the Bible, we see numerous stories, where God’s guiding hand of providence is leading. We see it in the story of Joseph as the Lord takes a man who was betrayed by his own brothers and uses Joseph to end up saving Israel and saving his brother Judah, from whose line Jesus would come into the world. 

We see providence in the Book of Ruth when a young women who’s a widow and has nothing moves away from her homeland and goes to Bethlehem. And it is there that a relative of her deceased husband, a man named Boaz marries Ruth and they have a Son who was the grandfather of King David. 

You have these series of events where the end result would not have happened had one thing been changed. The razor’s edge. 

We see the providential hand of God working throughout the Old Testament, throughout the history of Israel, throughout the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all the way to David, all the way to Joseph and Mary through whom Jesus came into the world. 

God providentially working. 

We see the providence of God throughout Paul’s missionary journeys. Successes but also times of major setbacks. Arrests, beatings, places he couldn’t travel to. But all of it was for a purpose as the work of God was advancing in the world. 

Those events are not random. The Lord is working in the world. He is working in history. He is working today, and he is working in our own lives. 

Saul found out his calling while searching for some donkeys.

For other Biblical figures, Abraham had a divine encounter when near the entrance of a tent. God spoke to Moses in a burning bush when he was tending to his sheep. 

Another man named Saul, who we know better as the Apostle Paul was hunting down Christians to persecute them and walking on the road to Damascus when Jesus appeared to him. 

Events so dramatic don’t happen all the time but God is no less at work. 

The things we do, the people we are, the backgrounds we have, the things that happen, all of it is for a purpose. 

And we have an opportunity within those things to serve the Lord and to be part of his story. 

Saul had his chance and ultimately fell into sin. Instead of being an example of grace, he became an example of how far we can fall.

The Israelites had demanded a king and told that it would go poorly for them. More taxes, loss of land, everyone would be a subject. But they wanted a king nonetheless. 

Perhaps you wonder why Saul failed if he was the man whom God chose? Because Saul was a fallible man and fallible people will never be the world’s ultimate hope. Even good kings in Israel still had their failings. 

But a king would come who would be the ultimate savior of Israel and of the world. And Saul points to that, and David will point to that. And all of the kings of Israel will point to that. 

The main character of this book is not Samuel, it’s not Saul, it’s not David. The main character is God who despite the failures of the kings, remains the ultimate sovereign over Israel who is leading his people and his kingdom. 

That was true in the days of Saul. And it’s still true today. God is the king. He is soverengly working.

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