Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”
When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”
They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”
Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
– 1 Samuel 10:17-24
“What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.
– 1 Samuel 13:11-15
Let me tell you a fictional story. NOTE: This story is fictional. If this sounds like your church, it is purely accidental, or is it?
Once upon a time, a long time ago (See, it wasn’t the church you were thinking of at all.), there was a church that had some money to spend on improvements. They did a survey of church members. Out of 100 people surveyed, there were 102 opinions on what improvements should be made. Nevertheless, the church had a congregational meeting to vote on a single idea.
One young church member asked how a vote on one idea could pass when there were more ideas than voters.
Someone, one of the long-time elders of the church, said, “Don’t worry. The fix is in.”
There was room to worry. The Yea and Nae voters each had arranged for the ‘fix’. The young church member looked into the sanctuary. The church normally had 150 people on any given Sunday, except Easter and Christmas. When there was an announced congregational meeting, it was hard to get a quorum of around 85 people, because people, tired of church politics, would skip that Sunday. Yet, on this Sunday, the crowd was larger than any Easter crowd he had ever seen. There had to be at least 350 people, maybe 400. It was almost up to Christmas attendance. At least half of the crowd were people that the young church member had never met before.
After the church worship service was over, the meeting began. The proposal was presented. Order had to be called to silence the naysayers. The naysayers felt they could simply shout the proposal into oblivion by disrupting the meeting. There was a call for a vote. The Nae votes were louder than the Yea votes, but only by shouting. They called for a ballot vote. They had not anticipated this large of a crowd, so they had a pause while someone went to the copier for more ballots. Once the ballots were counted, the Yea votes outnumbered the Nae votes with one extra vote more than the minimum required. (In some churches, a majority is required, but in other churches, depending upon what is voted on, it could be a majority, or 60% or 75% required.)
The fix had really been in, and the proposal passed. Each side brought in their cronies, and the Yea side had more friends than the Nae side.
Was God’s will sought? Not hardly. The Yea side was bull-headed. They were going to have their way. The Naysayers would be ignored. Was God a naysayer that day? Who knows. Whether He was for or against the proposal, no one knows. God was never consulted.
The money was spent, and God was glorified as a result. But could they have done something better? Does it matter now? The money, at this point, was gone.
In the Scripture above, Samuel tells the people one more time that they are rejecting God if they get a king. They cast lots and chose the tribe of Benjamin. When you look at the end of Judges (Judges 19-21), Benjamin had been naughty. The other tribes tried to eradicate their cousins. As cooler heads prevailed, it was arranged for wives to be available for the Benjamites who survived the slaughter. They would be allowed to essentially kidnap and rape to obtain wives, since the other tribes had sworn an oath to not ever ‘allow’ their daughters to be given in marriage to this perverted tribe. From that tiny remnant of men, a new king would be chosen, because the dice landed that way. I doubt if I have ever heard a sermon on this chosen tribe for the king. Maybe it is simply too much of an adult rated topic.
Now Saul had already been anointed by Samuel. Samuel knew which way the dice would fall. (I say dice, in that casting lots was something similar to tossing dice today.) Yes, the fix was in. God would see to it that Saul would be chosen. But for what purpose? Remember that the people were rejecting God by demanding a king. Yet, God chooses their king for them.
After Saul is made king, he immediately wins a little insignificant skirmish against the Philistines. This minor victory against the Philistines made the Philistines angry. They got their army together and charged against Saul. Saul got his army together and prepared for battle. Samuel has not shown up and Saul has put himself into a pickle without ever consulting God. Saul finally has a moment of clarity, okay clarity on Saul’s terms. So, Saul offered a sacrifice to God. Timothy Keller recently tweeted, “Moralistic behavior change done for one’s self simply manipulates and leverages radical selfishness without challenging it.” This was what Saul did when he sacrificed a burnt offering rather than wait for Samuel to do it. Note that this is a very short chain of events. Between 1 Samuel 10 and 1 Samuel 13, the majority of the text is Samuel’s farewell speech. This was Saul’s first major battle. The ink on his coronation paperwork is not yet dry. He starts his reign as king by screwing up. He screwed up so bad that God has already found someone else.
Saul was self-centered. He was just the person God wanted as king of Israel to teach the Israelites that worldly wisdom was fleeting, but Godly wisdom leads to victory. Saul was head and shoulders taller than anyone else. Odd, Saul did not dare go up against Goliath. He may have been the only one that could look him in the eye – almost. Of course, by then Saul knew that God had cursed his reign as king and his days were numbered. Saul demanded a lot from the people of Israel, all to protect Saul – so that Saul could live another day.
Yet, Samuel has not met David when he proclaims that God has chosen another, a man after God’s own heart.
In this post, I have talked about a nation electing a king and a church voting on spending money – both with the ‘fix’ in place, but what of us?
How often have you had a family discussion, but one family member, who always gets their way, gets their way again? Could it be that ‘the fix is in’?
Did the family pray first? Did the family wait upon the Lord to answer the prayer before boldly moving forward upon the desires of the headstrong who always wins?
God’s will be done, even when a decision is made against God’s perfect plan. He made a great nation out of Israel. King David arose, and he defeated his enemies. Solomon was mostly a man of peace, but the borders of Israel increased even more. All of this happened after Saul reigned as king. God can make something out of nothing. In the case of Israel, something out of very little. God made something for His glory out of what the fictional church did.
God can make something out of you, or the situation that you are in right now. But you must call on Him. You must read His Word and rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance. And this next bit is the hard part, you may just have to wait for an answer. Seek silence. God often speaks in a soft voice.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.