A bit of background before we get to today’s passage. Samuel, who was Hannah’s son dedicated to God, is now Israel’s prophet full-time. The people had begged him to ask God for a king so they could be like other nations. So he anointed Saul as king of Israel. It’s been proclaimed to all of the tribes, and a month later there’s a battle with one of the neighboring nations, and God gives Saul the victory as he leads the people. So we pick up with 1 Samuel 11:14-15.
Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the Lord, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.
I guess in our country you could compare this process to when a new president is elected leading up to his inauguration. It’s technically official beforehand, but doesn’t really sink in until there’s a party. I love reading here that Saul and the Israelites rejoiced. In The Message, it says they “celebrated magnificently.” Sounds like a great time!
Saul’s kingship starts out great, but it doesn’t take long for his pride to take over. In fact, it’s only two chapters later that he screws up and Samuel prophesies that Saul will not continue to lead Israel, and his descendants won’t take over the throne either. Sounds a lot like Eli, doesn’t it? God wasn’t about to let foolishness or pride in His chosen leaders be the undoing of His chosen people.
How many times in our lives do we start out with celebration, only to lose sight of God in the middle of our daily existence? I wonder if what happened to Saul and to Eli is what happens in a lot of failed marriages. It starts with a huge party, and ends in tears and suffering. Being king or being a spouse takes daily reliance on the mercies of God, recognizing that we are lost, sinful people in desperate need of a Savior. And then we can rejoice in knowing that we’ve already been granted that salvation plus given the Holy Spirit to guide us on our path. But it takes humility to see that need in the first place – until we know we need Jesus, we can’t rejoice in the fact that we have Him!
Lord, humble me daily so I may truly be thankful for all You do for me. Remind me that I am only able to lead because of Your leadership in my life. Guide my steps and my actions that they may always be pleasing to You and point others to Your gracious, abundant love.