“Signs of the Promise” 1 Samuel 10:1-16
We continue in our survey of 1 Samuel. Remember Israel wanted a king. God’s timing was not for a king to be crowned at this moment in Israel’s history. The LORD underlined this point again in our chapter (verses 18-19). Still, God provides for them the very king they wanted.
First, He prepared Saul to understand that God had chosen Him to be king. He did this by providing three clear undeniable signs to show he was God’s choice. Then, in verses 17-27, God showed the nation He had chosen Saul. When the lot was falling upon Saul as the chosen one, Saul, himself, was busy hiding himself among the baggage. Saul did not want the job.
Is there anything that we can learn from this historical account? There are two truths we need to grasp from this, which can help us in our walk with our Lord. First, we learn about signs and prophecy. Second, we discover how our living God works today.
If Saul needs to be king, he must first know he was the one God picked to be king. As Samuel led Saul and his servant to the edge of town after the sacrifice and feast the day before, something very interesting happened. “As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, ‘Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.’ And he went on. ‘But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God.’ Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: ‘Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?’” (1 Samuel 9:27–10:1)
It is now plain to Saul what the LORD intended for him. Still, we can understand how Saul might find this news very hard to accept. So, the LORD and Samuel gave the reluctant king-elect three signs to guarantee that Saul will become king as God promised. We see in Samuel’s signs for Saul a phenomena in the Bible we need to understand.
Do you remember the famous verse from Isaiah we often quote at Christmas time? “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) Actually this prophecy is “a sign” of a bigger prophecy. The LORD’s prophet would make a prophecy and then give “signs,” prophecies which would happen close in time to assure them the bigger future prophecy would come to pass as promised.
Samuel gave Saul a series of three “signs.” Without question, all three were fulfilled, but the writer chooses to focus on the last one to flesh out the details. “When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, ‘What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?’ Then a man from there answered and said, ‘But who is their father?’ Therefore it became a proverb: ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’” (1 Samuel 10:10–12)
Saul joining the prophets was out of character for him. This was so shocking to those who knew Saul beforehand that they coined a proverb about it and wondered who his father was. God wanted Saul to know that He was able to do through Saul what needed to be done.
This all is not so amazing to us because we were told “the rest of the story” when the LORD whispered it to Samuel in chapter 9. Yet, we need to remember as we are reading this, very few people knew what was actually playing out before their eyes. Samuel knew. Saul knew because Samuel told him. Saul’s servant did not know. Saul’s friends did not know. Even Saul’s uncle and father did not know.
In 1 Samuel 10:17-27 we are told how the LORD demonstrated to the nation His choice of Saul. Lots were cast and God providentially picked Saul. At the moment of great celebration of the new king in Israel, the prospective king, Saul the son of Kish, was hiding in the baggage.
Our LORD frequently works His plan behind the scenes where we cannot see. Do you remember the prophet Habakkuk? He complained God was doing nothing about the situation in Judah. “Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” (Habakkuk 1:3-4)
God graciously responded to Habakkuk’s challenge and showed him and us something we would not have seen any other way. “Look among the nations and watch— be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.” (Habakkuk 1:5–6) Habakkuk is significant today because all that happened to him sounds like the events taking place in our country right now. We must know God is at work behind the curtain, and He will take care of all of us who are His righteous ones who live by faith in Him. Otherwise we have no hope.
My second example is Joseph. Remember how there is no recorded sin in Joseph. He was not sinless. He surely was not a great sinner. Still, even though Joseph seemed to live his whole life putting the living God first, trouble after trouble kept on following him. Torn from his loving father by scheming brothers, he was a slave, and “just happened” to be sold to Potiphar the captain of the king’s guard.
Potiphar “just happened” to have a wife who took a shine to Joseph. Joseph did the right thing and resisted her advances. For his obedience, he ended up in prison where he “just happened” to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh’s baker and butler. The butler promised he would tell Pharaoh about Joseph when he returned to the king’s pleasure, but he forgot. When the butler finally remembered Joseph, his remembering was the catalyst for Joseph’s exaltation to second in Egypt. Jacob’s exaltation allowed him to bring Jacob (Israel) and all his children to Egypt in fulfillment of the LORD’s eternal plan. In the years in the midst of trial in Joseph’s life he did not know what God was doing. He could have looked out his little window at all he could see and say as his father did. “Everything is against me.” We are never told Joseph did that, but he could have. He did not know what God was busy doing behind the scenes.
We always take Genesis 50:20 individually. Yet, it also has a strong national application. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20) The LORD did deliver Joseph and exalt him to a high place. He at the same time saved the whole nation of Israel.
Do we recognize more is going on in our lives than we can see with our eyes or touch with our hands? God is not inactive or uncaring in the 21st century America. God cares about what is happening in each of our lives. He is busy bringing about His will.
Do we really believe Proverbs 3:5-6? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 Amplified Bible)
Trusting Him is all we need to do. Trusting Him is very hard to do, yet trust we must.