I SAMUEL – SAUL: THE FIRST OF THE KINGS IN ISRAEL
And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! This same shall reign over my people (1 Samuel 9.17).
SAUL AND SAMUEL
God's purposes for Israel would be manifest in a unique manner to the twelve tribes. A new form of government would replace the old. No longer would Judges rule the twelve tribes. Samuel was the last Judge. He had occupied the seat of rule all his life (1 Samuel 7.15), but, beginning with Saul, the reigns of power would reside with the kings.
Saul was the first, and probably the most complex of the kings of Israel. Saul was chosen by God to occupy the throne. Any possibility he would decline, or fail to rule his appointed time did not exist. Despite the notions of limited Predestinarians and assorted other Arminians, nothing fails in the eternal plan of God. That unfailing plan embraces all things. If such possibilities did exist, we challenge the world to produce evidence from the Bible that the choice of Saul by God could be nullified. God said, "This same (Saul] shall reign over my people." That, dear readers, settled it! God clearly, without a trace of ambiguity, foretold the rule of Saul. Therefore, every possible event since the dawn of time that could in any way affect, to the slightest degree, the rule of Saul, must be equally as sure as God's pronouncement saying Saul would reign. How else could God speak in certainty unless the events he foretold were certain?
Examples for the necessity of continuity in all transpiring events, from the beginning to Saul's actual reign as king over Israel, abound. We offer one.
Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was e last of the sons of Jacob and second son of Rachel, Joseph being the first. Lovely Rachel, the darling of Jacob, travailed hard in labor when Benjamin was born (Genesis 35.16). If fact, she died. Those blessed to see the predestination of God in all things know that was the set time for Rachel to die. It was as ordained as the rising of the sun. Some deny there is a set time to die. To them Rachel might have died sooner, or even later, than when she did. This they affirm constantly. As far as they are concerned, Rachel might have died when delivering Joseph her first son as when she did. No predestination, say they, and thus no certainty. Well then, we shall ask, had Rachel died while delivering Joseph, a real possibility with no predestination to make anything certain, there would be no Benjamin, would there? And, neither would there be a Saul that God had declared would reign. This is the same as saying God either changed or did not know of what He affirmed.
This is but one of millions of interlinking events that renders the pronouncement of God relating to Saul a certainty.
Persons often exclaim they would never serve in public office, no matter what the populace desired. Concerning Saul, there was no public clamor to have him for Israel's king. Israel panted after a king, true enough, but they did not make the selection of Saul. God made the choice. He determined, promoted, and secured all to occupy this seat of power. His government governs all governments. This includes the grubby local official and the mightiest monarch. All alike are under the control and sway of God. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13.1)." We marvel how some dare complain against God, rejecting His ruling the affairs of men. Is there not far more blessed comfort knowing He superintends the affairs of men "for good to those that love Him" than to fear every moment that matters may suddenly rage out of control? So they might without predestination.
It is charged, and that falsely, Predestinarians carry their doctrine too far. It is said our pronouncements range far too excessive for the sensitive ears of modern religionists. If so, we insist, let our accusers show us precisely where to stop. Let them, our opponents, mark before us the line they have found, anywhere in the Bible, at which we are to stop. "Possibly" some will say, "God did govern the affairs of Israel then, and to some extent today, but He does not extend His sway and dominion to include the unwholesome [whatever that is] events of life." Let us see! "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men (Daniel 4.17)." If that text does not reveal God's rule is all encompassing, what would it take to satisfy our critics? Shall they draw the line short of this text and admonish us not to pass? They deny heaven's edicts at their peril. More need not be said, especially for those that reverence the Word of God.
"Behold the man whom I spake to thee of!" Even wise Samuel needed prompting by God that this man Saul, standing before him, was to be king of Israel. Samuel was wise and discerning, but he, like all fallen sons of Adam, derived his understanding of the affairs of God from God.
SAUL MEETS SAMUEL
There are many fascinating examples in Scriptures of encounters between prominent servants of God with those whom God purposed for them to meet. None are more engaging than our present. Samuel, the last judge of Israel, had grown old. The tribes of Israel had grown restless; they were weary (wrongfully) of a theocentric government, a disposition sadly complementing all human nature. As for Saul, he was growing up in his father's household, and from appearances, primarily occupied with tending his father's asses. Under the unerring guidance of God, these three, Israel, Samuel, and Saul met in conformity to the eternal will for their corresponding and intertwined futures.
"And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! This same shall reign over my people (1 Samuel 9.17)." Samuel was previously informed of Saul's coming and thus God revealed him unto Samuel as the appointed king to rule over "my people." There is comfort in those words, my people, when applied to the heart by the Spirit of God. My people speaks loudly of the peculiar relation accorded the chosen of God as distinct from all other people.
The nations about Israel, the Philistines, the Egyptians, and all others, were as much the created people of God as Israel, but never are they denominated my people. "And they shall be my people, and I will be their God (Jeremiah 32.38)." This set the tone for coming relations between Saul and the tribes over which he would rule. He would rule them, but they would ever remain the people of God.
It is significant to see, while Samuel knew Saul when first they met, for the Lord told him who he was, Saul was totally ignorant of this exalted servant of God, even when in his presence. "Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is (1 Samuel 9.18)." Saul was in the presence of Samuel for only one reason, at least as far as he was concerned; he sought information to enable him in finding his lost asses. Remarkable indeed; God had chosen to lead and rule His people this grown man that was completely unaware when in the presence of Samuel, God's most highly favored man among the tribes. But the tide that swept Saul into the presence of Samuel was not simply the flow of unrelated events in uncharted waters. The ordained occasion had arrived. God was to invest the temporal rule of affairs with a carnal king. He had from eternity chosen a lowly ass-herder, Saul, who, at that time was in futile pursuit of his lost asses. And God put Samuel in his path. "And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me to day, and to morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart (1 Samuel 9.19)."
"Tell thee all that is in thine heart." Who can accomplish such apart from the Spirit of God? Samuel would apprise Saul of everything necessary to fully establish God was superintending this transition. This is one of many instances in Scriptures where a prophet of God revealed things otherwise unknown. With the exception of skeptics and God haters, we know of no Bible students that question the revelation of things unknown by those anointed prophets of God. In chapters nine and ten of 1 Samuel there are at least nine instances where Samuel revealed unto Saul proceedings that could not be learned or foretold with ordinary human discernment. I-tad there been only an item or two, we might conclude Samuel held this high position by personal shrewdness. We shall briefly examine these pronouncements and therein behold, not the wisdom and knowledge of Samuel, but pf God.
Ask yourself this one question in reviewing what Samuel revealed to Saul: how did Samuel know all this? We hope to answer that question subsequently.
1. "And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them: for they are found...Samuel 9.20)." Saul had not mentioned how long the asses were lost. In fact, Saul told Samuel nothing. Nevertheless, Samuel unveils the unknown. Moreover, Samuel sets the mind of Saul at ease; he assures him the asses are found. How did Samuel come by these facts? Clever guessing? Enchantments? Absurd! Samuel, the servant of God, was given this knowledge directly from God (verses 15 and 16).
2. "... And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee and on all thy father's house (1 Samuel 9.20)?" Samuel took no polls. He had no time to visit among the tribes. To arrive at the conclusion the whole nation desired Saul required knowledge beyond normal. In fact, the whole of the nation did not know they desired Saul to reign. But Samuel related it to Saul as a fact. Why? God told him so, and clearly that was good enough for Samuel. It is good enough for the elect today as well. We will appraise the evident truth to which this conclusion leads later.
3. "And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God (1 Samuel 9.27)." Nothing specific is here given but the statement of Samuel establishes a foundation for all that transpires between him and Saul; that which passed from the Judge to the future king was nothing less than the very word of God. "That I may shew thee the word of God." This statement alone is sufficient to raise our inquiry from that of knowledgeable men to the knowledge of God.
What Samuel unfolded to Saul was eternal; it was settled forever. "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven (Psalm 119.89)." Every syllable uttered by the aged judge was as settled, certain and sure as the foundations of God's eternal throne. Samuel surely knew these things. Did Samuel's knowing them make them sure? No, but he could not have known them unless they were sure. Otherwise they would be no better than vain speculation.
Parenthesis: "Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head and kissed him, and said...Samuel 10.1)." It is worthy of notice, Samuel anointed Saul from a vial of oil. When he later anointed David in Saul's place he used a horn of oil (1 Samuel 16.13). See Revelation 15.7 and the whole of Revelation, Chapter 16.
4. "When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son (1 Samuel 10.2)?" This verse weaves together such complex and intricate involvement by so many persons it is impossible to believe Samuel could dream this up. For all to come to pass exactly as he foretold it without some measure of Divine certainty to bring it to pass is incredulous. Five people in three different locations are involved in one brief statement; Samuel, Saul, two unnamed men, and Saul's father. Circumstances, distance and time forbid a conspiracy or a fraud by Samuel. The exact location, some good distance away, is fully given. The exact language of the two men Samuel affirmed Saul would encounter is declared. The mind and disposition of Saul's anxious father is cataloged as fact. Who but the willfully blind can view this text and fail to see Divine certainty, Divine will, Divine predestination abounding? Saul had no pet theories or personal agenda to promote. The aged judge recited the word of God to Saul just as the Lord had bid him. Would he find out later God Himself was only speculating, or did all come to pass in flawless agreement with the disclosure? We shall see.
5. "Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Beth-el, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine: And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands (1 Samuel 10.3,4)." The old judge not only speaks of events of the present day at Rachel's sepulchre, he speaks of the further activities of Saul with such detail we must marvel. We are struck with wonder at the vivid display of the predestination of God in Samuel's words. Can the accuracy of all coming to pass, as foretold by Samuel, be accounted for by other measures? Surely not! Either Samuel knew these things were as positive as God's revelation of them to him, or he was the "luckiest" guesser the world ever saw.
How could Samuel say Saul would "go on forward from thence" unless it was sure? Could Samuel know the mind of Saul? Could he accurately forecast Saul's movements with nothing more than human discernment? Certainly not!
Should the reader be weary of our pattern here they might as well close the paper without reading further. This is our meat and drink. The deep ways of God's revealing His mind are far more satisfying than the stiffly structured appeals of Conditionalists aimed at bringing the Baptists up from the dunghill.
We continue: Samuel unfolds a remarkably complex series of events no human could formulate without divine aid. Saul would go to the plain of Tabor. Why there? Because it was the word of the Lord to Samuel. There Saul would meet three men (not two or four, but three) going up (not returning) to God to Beth-el. Samuel told the son of Kish not only where he would go, but how many persons he would meet, and where. This is grounds of holy rejoicing for those weary of false prophets. Samuel told Saul where the three were going themselves; to Beth-el. Marvelous as all this is, Samuel yet wove more threads of wisdom into this coat of many colors. According to the judge, one of the three going up to Beth-el would be carrying three kids. This in itself seems a hefty load, but so it would be, for Samuel had divine authority to say so. The second would be carrying three loaves of bread. We can be sure Samuel was no Conditionalist. Otherwise he would have said that the fellow would be carrying three loaves of bread, unless perchance, he got hungry, gobbled up a portion on the way, before Saul reached him and deprived him the portion the Lord said was his. The third fellow of Samuel's prophecy would be carrying a bottle of wine.
Reader, ask yourself, is all this, apart from the knowledge of God, beyond the capacity of man to foretell with such detail and accuracy or not?
There was more. "And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands (1 Samuel 10.4)." How can Samuel possibly know the disposition and liberality of these men? At the time of this incident the prospects of such liberality to a stranger were minimal. Yet, Samuel cites all this with the penetrating authority of one who knew exactly of what he spoke.
It must be acknowledged by all with common sense and a reasonable fear of God, the knowledge of Samuel in these events was such that the Lord alone could surpass it in detail and accuracy.
6. "After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy (1 Samuel 10.5)." Surely Samuel believed it was "...not in man that walketh to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10.23)." Here was no license to walk any uncertain way, but rather, a "thou shalt come" punctuated the prophecy of the old judge. Moreover, Samuel was cognizant of the position of the Philistine forces. This shows he had understanding of activities of both the enemies of God and the people of God equally. We can only conclude, those Philistine forces could have overturned the foundations of the world or snatched the sun from its orbit as soon as they could have relocated, thereby falsifying the word of Samuel to Saul relative to their whereabouts.
History vividly furnishes through the centuries the imperative nature of timing in the conduct of every activity. We need not elaborate. In this instance, Saul was to meet a company of prophets. If there was even a measure of truth in Conditionalism, these prophets might have failed to arrive on time. A bad night's sleep could have roused them earlier than planned and thus the meeting would not occur. On the other hand, Saul, being a tall individual, might have traveled somewhat faster than Samuel anticipated, being long-legged, and arrived prior to the arrival of the company of prophets. Without predestination this would be a very real possibility, and, try as they may, Conditionalists cannot deny it. Such is a sample of the fruit of all conjectures where predestination is discounted.
"...with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them." The details with which Samuel outlines Saul's immediate future are amazing. There could be no deviation; Saul would encounter these things; no more, and no less! When we consider this is the pattern of the entire Bible, the predestination of all events can be our only conclusion. And why not? Nothing more exalts God than the doctrine of His absolute Sovereignty.
7. "And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man (1 Samuel 10.6)." Hearken, brethren! We have entered a new dimension. Thus far Samuel prophesied of matters concerning men. Here, however, he conveyed to Saul intelligence about heaven itself. Samuel could not possibly relate this matter unless the wisdom and knowledge of God had been settled prior to Samuel foretelling it. As we develop these verses it becomes more and more apparent, all Samuel had told Saul was based upon concrete intelligence; the sure knowledge of things to come based on the eternal decrees. Can it be otherwise?
8. "And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee (1 Samuel 10.7)." To a casual reader, this verse might appear to present considerable latitude for Saul in the form of freewill. In context, however, and with the magnitude of the person of God considered, no such latitude exists. Even the possibility vanishes as a vapor in a gale.
That these dramatic signs would come upon Saul, none may deny, unless they believe Samuel orated absent of God's authority. As for the expression "let it be," the simple motive with Samuel was obvious; he instructs Saul that opposition or objection to the will of God is useless. "Let it be, Saul." Struggle is useless! "Do as occasion serve thee" is similar. Saul is encouraged to simply remain passive. Saul will not serve the occasion; the occasion will serve Saul. Why? "For God is with thee." How then, could he do contrarily?
9. "And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt-offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace-offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do (1 Samuel 10.8)." Should an ordinary individual attempt to divine the future, as did Samuel, they would at once be branded as an audacious fool or even worse. Either prescience or presumption must have driven the pronouncements of this verse.
Samuel could not possibly have known the events of the following seven days apart from divine direction. That is exactly what we believe led Samuel to recite all this intelligence to Saul. Could a humble believer in the Lamb of God see these statements and not conclude they emanated from an eternal plan and not the carnal planning of mortals?
"And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day (1 Samuel 10.9)." Stamp predestination across the whole scroll of Samuel's communications to Saul. No sooner had Samuel done speaking than the inspired word records "And it was so!" Heaven itself sanctioned the volume. This we have forevermore; Samuel spoke with authority for he knew of what he spoke. Lest someone cringe away from our conclusion and view it with suspicion, we once again emphasize the close of the verse. "And all those signs came to pass that day." What Samuel foretold and what came to pass were one and the same.
If the Lord may be pleased we shall compare the knowledge of Samuel as it related to Saul with the knowledge of God relating to the same in our next issue. Our ultimate purpose is to establish that the knowledge of God and the predestination of God embrace the same things and so are equal.
Volume 13, No. 1