Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: “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.” When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 1 Samuel 9:15-20.
This is the beginning of the rule of Kings. And what is the difference between a king and a judge? A judge came on the scene to solve a problem, but did not create a governing structure. The kings, as God warned, would beget a whole Royal class, a standing army, and a permanent government. It is what people chose over God as their king. Under the judges, they were free, but wasted their freedom on other gods and lost God’s protection. Under the kings, the people would be “restrained.” A king would keep them occupied.
Even after the establishment of Kings, under which there would be good ones and bad ones, God would still raise up prophets. They would be faithful men who would bring course corrections as needed.
Having an earthly ruler can be convenient. He is someone to blame when things go wrong. But the ruler use usually only a symptom. And sometimes a bad ruler is a form of God’s judgment. It comes because we, the people have started serving our own interests, and letting our leaders be our substitutes before God. But we will all stand before him in the end.