Anointing. God has Samuel anoint Saul as king. Once upon a time, when Kings or Queens were installed on their thrones, it was often a Bishop or a Pope who would physically place the crown on their head. It was symbolic that the new King or Queen was appointed by God to take the throne. It is a practice that starts here with Saul and Samuel. God directed his representative to bestow the kingship on the one God had chosen.
This brought a sense of stability to the situation because people recognized that this was God’s choice for the nation and so respected Saul as King, as God’s chosen representative. We will see later on that even David, in midst of being hunted by Saul, refused to lay a hand on God’s chosen and anointed leader. It was God’s choice to install Saul as King, and it would be God’s choice to remove him.
It is easy to get down on Saul, he wasn’t exactly a rousing success as a King. But he starts out well enough, believing and obeying Samuel, defeating the Ammonites and bringing unity to the tribes of Israel.
Samuel’s final speech reflects all of this. Saul was the King God appointed in response to Israel’s desire to have a King. Saul was to walk in obedience to God and the people were to honour and respect him. But the other element in Samuel’s speech is a reminder to Israel that having a King does not replace God as their true leader. They must remain faithful to God above and beyond their King and monarchy. They must remember to obey God, follow his decrees and worship Him only. Samuel is wise in reminding Israel of this distinction, because the time will come when Israel will follow their Kings away from God, forgetting their true KING entirely and prostituting themselves with idols.
It is difficult for us to apply the idea of anointed leaders to our day and age. I would hazard to say that many of us do not see our political leaders as anointed and appointed by God. We might even wonder how some of our leaders were appointed in the first place, let alone by God. The truth is our governing system does not really take God into account at all. Sure I would hope that Christians would make determining who they choose to vote for a matter of prayer and petition before God, but I honestly doubt that many of us think about it that deeply. We have completely bought into the “separation of church and state” policy that runs our nation, and I believe we’re the worse off for it.
We need to be praying for our leaders, for God to get hold of their hearts, for God to influence our legal and political systems with his will and for his glory. We need to prayerfully petition God to direct us to vote for the right people, not because they wear the right colour but because they honour the King of kings.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 13-14