“So! This “King” Business is not so Bad After All Is It Samuel?
When Samuel encouraged and exhorted Israel to the renewal of the kingdom, we need to see what was happening, and why. We need to look at the ramifications of what happened from this so called “renewal”.
Samuel accompanied Saul and the army back home. Thirty eight miles south, south-east of the battle ground that was Jabesh Gilead, was the ancient city cum shrine of Gilgal, a site which is today only known by approximation, Saul was reaffirmed, and the kingdom renewed.
So what happened?
This was a formal recognition of Saul by the means of, what we in Britain would refer to as a full and proper Coronation. In the first flush of victory over the Ammonites, we plainly see that it was, from Samuel’s speech in 1 Samuel 12, a long time coming, in a long term, “step by step” campaign by Nahash. Samuel says quite plainly in 1 Samuel 12:12 that Nahash the Ammonites’ uprising was one of the original reasons why they had asked for a king.
So, with ceremony and celebration, the prophet made sacrifices, the people, “made Saul King,” in the sight of the army, and declared him to be rightful monarch again, in the full confidence and high swell that a mighty and memorable victory gives a nation.
So we have in scripture three declarations of Saul’s kingship by Samuel.
The first time Samuel and Saul were the only one’s present. The second time the entire nation was present with Samuel. The third time was Samuel’s priestly presentation and full coronation worthy of a king.
The first time was a declaration to Saul alone. The second time was the announcement to the nation of the king. The third time was the presentation to God of the new king.
Practically, the main benefit for Saul was that we never hear of him again, “in the fields,” or, carrying on his farming duties. It is commonly deduced that from this moment on, i.e. from this coronation at the end of 1 Samuel 11, Saul ceased to be a “part-time,” “ad hoc,” honorary king. He was the reigning, ruling, royal monarch from this day on, with the beginnings of the trappings of monarchical splendour, and the privileges such a position gives to its post holder.
Not that, “suddenly! “ Saul was in a golden palace or anything of a sort. But the king from this point had an army and a monarchical base, all of which needed paying for. We will look at the ramifications of all this when we plough into 1 Samuel 12.
The point is that the entire nation now had a king that was acknowledged to be a fighter, a leader, a man of authority, and sanctioned by both Yahweh, Samuel and all the people. For the moment, all was content, the people were happy with what they had.
And so the governmental authority of the Hebrew nation was now fully and formally altered into monarchy. Long live King Saul!
Could it get any better? A king that loves God, prophecies, and fights with valour? A monarch who could bring 330,000 men together from scratch and take them to the battlefield within 7 days?
Saul would be settling into his new role and delegating folks to run his farm. Samuel would be getting down and dirty with the schools of the prophets. The nations round about would be trembling in their boots (or sandals) because of Israel’s all round unity.
God did say to Abraham that he would be the father of kings, i.e. plural. As far as Israel themselves were concerned, Saul was the first sample of the fulfillment of God’s promise.