The following is an extract from ‘Looking for a Leader’ Page 277. I had intended to devote today’s blog to David but the interactions between Samuel, Saul and David are so central to this key period in Advent history that I have allowed myself today, as a bridging unit to David, and tomorrow I will focus on him.
“Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15.34-35
In a very important sense Saul’s reign was now ended. The prophet departed from the king for good, just as the king had turned away from following the Lord. (1 Samuel 15.11)
We are right to see Saul’s reign as a tragedy. At the heart of this tragedy was human sinfulness. In Saul we have seen that the leader chosen by the people and for the people was undone by his sinfulness.
How different was the day, many years later, when a voice was heard from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3.17). In Jesus we have a king who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2.8). In complete contrast to the rejection of King Saul, the New Testament proclaims of Jesus:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, ands every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2.9-11)” (End of quote)
What does this mean for the promise we have been following through the pages of the OT?
The answer is thankfully immediate.
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16.1)
Do you see the change of emphasis? God says ‘I have provided for myself a king among (Jesse’s) sons.
This king is not to be the people’s choice. The people saw, as we noted yesterday, ‘an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites – a head taller than any of the others’(9.1-2). But God sees differently and chooses the least impressive of Jesse’s sons, so unimpressive in the eyes of his family and brothers that he was not even invited to be with them when Samuel came. He was however ‘ruddy and had beautiful eyes and (was) handsome’ (1 Samuel 16.12)!
The choice of David, how and why it happened and with what consequences we will explore tomorrow, and probably the following day as well, so crucial is it to the Advent story.