And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” 1 Samuel 12:19-25.
As Samuel prepares to meet his God, he has some reminders for the people. Like, how wickedly they have behaved in the past, whoring after other gods. And reminding them how their God has delivered them whenever they have turned back to him. And all that happened without the dubious benefit of having a king. Then Samuel gives them a scary sign to reinforce the fact that this demanded for a king was yet another turn away from God.
In the past, God would raise up a strong leader of His choosing to turn the people back to the Lord. Now the people have demanded a strong leader to fight their battles. The were not turning toward the Lord, just after the results of turning to the Lord. They want peace and safety, not the provider of peace and safety.
We are no different today. We wanted a leader who would fight for us. We got him. But have we changed? Are we seeking first the kingdom of God? Are we preaching the gospel? Are we on our faces before God, interceding for our nation and repenting of our lukewarmness? Our focus on worldly pleasures? No, the church is still a self-help support group that is more concerned with saving itself from the lost than saving the lost.
Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.” Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. 1Samuel 12:12-15.
This was the beginning of something new: a new king, a new government, a new era. But it is a pale imitation of what God is after. He is their true ruler, but people asked for a human substitute who could not permanently save them.
This is why Jesus came to as the perfect human substitute, who will one day rule over the earth in person. For now He is enthroned in heaven, where we are with Him.
For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 3:6, NLT.
It is a mistake to focus on things below, where we entangle our affections and loyalties with mere men, instead of the one true God.
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.” 1 Samuel 10:1-8.
Samuel anoints Saul, and then gives him some signs that this is real. After all, Saul just went out to find some donkeys, and the prophet just told him he would be Israel’s king. He could be excused for thinking that the prophet might have the wrong man.
In some ways he is right. This was not what God wanted. This came about because Israel demanded a king, and God took this as rejection. God was the rightful king, but the people wanted a king they could see.
We see this happen all the time. God wants our love and devotion, and we want an elected leader to live righteously for us. We set all our desire on winning earthly elections, and when we lose we are devastated. We forget that the important thing is our God and our obedience to Him.