Elon, North Carolina
We are studying the Book of I Samuel and we come to an exciting part of the book. Israel gets its first king. This was like America getting its first President. His name was shah-ool or Saul. Saul was the first Jewish king. The whole second part of I Samuel is all about Saul. The first part is about Samuel. Before we look at our chapter, we have to do a quick review. We have to go back a few chapters.
In I Samuel 8, the nation asked for a king. They did not just want a new leader. They wanted a whole new form of government. They wanted a monarchy. Rule by a judge was old fashioned. It is antiquated. They wanted something more modern and up to date. They wanted to be ruled by a king. That is what the other nations had. They were really rejecting God but God gave them what they wanted.
In I Samuel 9, the Prophet Samuel gets a revelation. God reveals to Samuel who the first king will be. He meets him. He eats with him. He honors him. He gives him the best food and the best seat at the table. He took him to his home and showed him some hospitality.
Samuel was the leader of the country and Saul is going to take his place, but he is not bitter. He is not jealous. He is not angry. He is not vindictive. He supports him. He encourages him. He wants him to succeed. He consecrates him.
In I Samuel 10, Saul becomes king. Both Samuel and Saul make history. Saul becomes the first king of the Jews. Samuel becomes the first one ever to anoint a king. That that had never been done before because Israel never had a king before.
Priests in Israel had been anointed before this, but this was the first king ever to be anointed and he was anointed by a prophet. Samuel takes a flask and pours some holy oil on his head.
Samuel actually anoints two people as king. Later in the book, Samuel anoints David with oil. Saul was anointed privately. He was anointed in secret. No one was around. David was anointed in the presence of his family (I Samuel 16:13).
In I Samuel 9, Saul & Samuel found out who the next king would be. In I Samuel 10, the nation finds out. Samuel does not just call the nation together and make an announcement and tell them that Saul will be their new king. He lets them find out by lots.
It is a little like drawing straws and pulling out the big straw or like writing names on sticks and randomly pulling out a name. Proverbs 16:33 says: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (NIV).
Lots were used to show that God is the one who chooses Saul. Saul was NOT selected by Samuel. Samuel had never met him before. Saul was NOT selected by the people. This was not a democracy. The people were not given a list of candidates and vote for the candidate of their choice. That is the way we would do things. It is what we will do in about ninety days.
God chose Samuel. The tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. Saul’s family was chosen by lots and he was chosen by lots. The people recognized that this was God’s choice, and they were happy with the choice. Most of them were. They said, “Long live the king” (I Samuel 10:24).
Unfortunately, no matter who the leaders are, no matter how good they are, no matter who chooses them, even if God chooses them, there will always some who don’t like them. But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. (I Samuel 10:27 NIV). In every crowd of people, there are always some critics and skeptics.
Samuel did not just tell the people that now they have a king and the king could do what he wanted. Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. (I Samuel 10:25 NIV)
That is interesting. The Jews got a king, but the kings could not do anything they wanted to do. The king was the top leader in the nation but even the king was UNDER authority. They were not to be absolute dictators and tyrants. They were not to rule the country like Adolf Hitler. Saul was appointed by God. He was a minister of God and he was under the authority of God.
When these kings started to act on their own authority and do whatever they wanted to do, they could be replaced. That is what happened to the Babylonian king Belshazzar. His kingdom will be taken from him. He saw the handwriting on the wall and his time was up. That’s what would happen to Saul. How does this chapter apply to us today? The fact is that is that much of it does not apply to us.
We don’t have kings in our country. We have a President. None of us will rule as kings.
We will never be chosen by lot for a leadership role. In fact, we do not even use lots today to determine the will of God.
None of us will ever have olive oil poured over our head by some old prophet. Who wants to have a greasy head?
We will never meet a prophet like Samuel. Most of the prophets in churches today are not anything like Samuel.
How does any of this apply to us today? Saul had the opportunity to be used by God to do something that had never been done before in Israel. He had the opportunity to serve as king. We also have an opportunity to be used by God. In I Samuel 10, we see four things we have to do to be used by God.
1) To be used by God, you have to be CALLED
To be used by God, you have to have a call. Saul did not become a king because he was born a king. He did not become a king because he wanted to be a king.
He had no desire to be king. He was not out campaigning to be king. He did not go around and tell people to vote for him. He was not out promoting himself, like politicians do today. He did not become a king because people elected him to be king. That is the way it works in our system. His name was not on the ballot.
The ONLY reason that Saul became king was because God chose him to be king. He was called by God to be king. How did he know that he was called to be king? He was anointed by the prophet Samuel. Samuel took a flask and poured some holy oil on his head. It is a strange custom. We do not do this today, but Saul had an anointing for leadership.
This anointing was symbolic. Saul had a special call of God on his life for service that no one in the nation had and the oil consecrated him and set him apart. He was divinely commissioned. He was chosen by God.
Today, we talk about “an anointed speaker” or “an anointed worship leader.” That refers to someone who has a special gift or ability or a special call of God upon his or her life. Whatever God calls you to do is what He has anointed you to do.
Everyone is not called to public office or politics, like Saul was. Everyone is not called to be a leader. Everyone is not called to preach but we are all called to do something.
In fact, the Bible says that God called us to do some things before we were born God said to the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)
The problem today is that people try to do a ministry without a call. They are just doing it. They do it because it is something they want to do, or someone else wants them to do it. It is something that they were pressured into doing but God never told them to do it. Someone might have pressured them to do it.
I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied (Jeremiah 23:21 NIV)
You have to have a call. Saul knew he was called because a prophet showed up and anointed him. The king was chosen by lots and his name came up. We have the Holy Spirit inside us, and we can recognize God’s call in our lives. God will reveal our call a different way than He revealed it to Saul, but we are all called to do something. Saul was called to be king.
2) To be used by God, you have to be WILLING
It is possible to be called by God and NOT willing. To be used by God, you have to be, not only called, but willing to serve. You have to accept the call. There are examples in the Bible of people who accepted their call. Peter and Andrew did.
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20 NIV)
Isaiah also accepted his call. 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV). Not everyone accepts the call of God on their life.
Some MAKE EXCUSES why they could not do what God called them to do. God called Moses to lead the Jews out of the promise land and he made all kinds of excuses why he couldn’t do it. He said, “I am not the right man for the job. I am not qualified for the mission. I don’t know your name. No one will believe me, and no one will understand me because I have trouble speaking.”
Some RUN FROM their call. That is what Jonah did. God says to go one in direction, and he went in the exact opposite direction. God wanted him to go east, so he went west. People do that today. God calls them to do one thing and they do the exact opposite.
Some PROCRASTINATE when they are called. They put it off. “Maybe, I will get to it later but not now.” That is what Saul did. Saul had the biggest moment of his life at Mitzpah. His name comes up by lot. He wins the lottery. He was the number one pick in the draft, but he was not quite ready to accept it. The idea terrified him. To be king means you have the responsibility of the whole nation on your shoulders. Saul was just a farm boy.
When his name was called, he did not step forward. It is a rather funny picture. Saul’s name was called by lot but there was no answer. The people looked for him. They called his name but Saul could not be found anywhere. He was MIA. That is a little strange, because Saul was not an easy guy to miss. He was so tall. He stood head and shoulders over the crowd, but they still could not find him.
Where was he? He was hiding. That is strange. How do you hide someone who is that tall? How do you hide Yao Ming in a group of people? Samuel couldn’t find him. He had to ask God where he was, and God said that he was hiding (I Samuel 10:22).
He was hiding in the luggage, which is interesting behavior for an anointed king. This is a strange picture of Saul hiding in the luggage, hiding with the Samsonite. Saul could hide from the Jews, but he could not hide from God. He knew exactly where he was.
Why was he hiding? We are not told but the impression you get is that he was terrified. He did not want to be king. He did not choose to be king and he may have had an inferiority complex, like some of us do. He was impressive on the outside, tall and stately but, on the inside, he was a completely different picture.
He was reluctant. He was hesitant. He was terrified. He did not immediately accept his divine destiny. That spirit does not come from God. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (II Timothy 1:7 NIV).
Many of us are like Saul today. We are naturally timid. We have a spirit of fear. We have all kinds of insecurity. We hide in the luggage. God wants us to step up and we want to step back. Are we willing to do what God has called us to do or do we make excuses why we can’t do it and try and avoid it? Are we going to choose the baggage or the blessing?
3) To be used by God, you have to be EMPOWERED
Those He appoints, He anoints. Those He calls, He equips. To be used by God, you have to be equipped. You need divine enablement. You need supernatural empowerment. You need the Holy Spirit.
Before God uses you, He has to equip you and prepare you for service. He does that in many different ways. God will equip you for whatever He has called you to do. He will give you supernatural power to do it.
Many do NOT want to wait for that to happen but before we serve God, we have to be prepared. Moses had to wait eighty years to be prepared for ministry. God uses many things to prepare and equip people for ministry.
As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. (I Samuel 10:9-10 NIV)
Saul was equipped by God to do what He called him to do. He was equipped by God to be the first king of Israel. The Holy Spirit came on Saul. He did not just come on him. He came upon him POWERFULLY. He was completely changed. He was transformed by God.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)
You can’t do God’s work without God’s Spirit. If God’s Spirit does not come on us, we can’t be witnesses or do anything else, because we will not have any power. Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do NOTHING” (John 15:5 NKJV). We cannot be used by God greatly and serve God in our own strength.
4) To be used by God, you have to receive CONFIRMATION
Those God calls, He anoints but those He calls, He also confirms. We all know that one person who thinks they are gifted and called to do something but no one else feels that way. It is like the person who goes on American Idol who thinks they are the best singer in the world and they cannot sing at all.
In I Samuel 10, God not only calls and anoints Saul to be king, He confirms it. He confirms it to Saul, and He confirms it to the nation. Saul needed some confirmation of this call and so did the nation. There is a public and private confirmation.
Samuel told Saul that God had chosen him to be king. That might have sounded crazy to him. It was all very sudden and unexpected. He was not quite ready to hear that. Maybe he did not even believe him, so Samuel gave him three signs. Saul did not just get one sign. He got three.
Three Amazing Signs
Samuel gave Saul three signs that would confirm and exactly what he said. They were proofs that he would be the next king. What is lost will be found. Your hunger will be fed, and you will join in praise to God.
These proofs were very specific. They took place at a specific time in a specific place. One would be near a TOMB. One was near a TREE and one was in a TOWN. These signs all happened on the SAME DAY (I Samuel 10:9).
The first sign is some NEWS he will receive. He received the news near Rachel’s tomb. Rachel was his great, great, great grandmother. He will meet two men near this tomb with a specific message for him.
When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?” (I Samuel 10:2 NIV)
The second sign is some GIFTS he will receive. Saul will receive these gifts from three men. God will take care of him. He will take care of his donkeys and he will take care of him with bread and with wine. He will provide for his needs and He will provide for our needs as well.
“Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them. (I Samuel 10:3-4 NIV)
The third sign is supernatural POWER he would receive. Saul will not see two or three men but more. He will meet a group of men (at least four). Saul will be given divine enablement for service.
5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. (I Samuel 10:5-6 NIV)
Confirmation is not always supernatural or miraculous. How do you know if God has called you to do something? Often, God will confirm His call in your life. He will confirm it to you and to other people. When I was a young man in college, I hung out with two other men in church. All of us wanted to go into the ministry. Two of them ended up going into the ministry.
One became a missionary and one became a pastor, although neither one of them are in the ministry today. I always felt that I somehow missed my calling and that I should have been a pastor. The reason that I never did is because I never received any confirmation. Looking back on it, I am convinced that it was the right decision. Have you ever received confirmation for what God has called you to do? Saul did.
What does this say to us today? If God is calling you to do something, he will confirm it to others as well. That doesn’t mean, if you are called to go into the ministry that you have to be ordained.
Many famous Christians were never ordained. Some of the most famous preachers in church history were never ordained. D. L. Moody was not ordained, but he was still greatly used by God. C. H. Spurgeon was not ordained.
Jesus wasn’t ordained. The Pharisees did not ordain him. The Sadducees did not ordain him. The Jewish rabbis did not get together an ordain Jesus to preach. He was ordained by God. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit.
Ordination has become meaningless. Today, you can get ordained off the Internet. In fact, even atheists can become ordained so they can perform weddings. You don’t have to be ordained but if God has called you to be a pastor or do any kind of ministry, He will confirm it to you and to others.
Was Saul Saved?
I Samuel 10:9-10 raises a very important question. It is a question that has led to a lot of debate and controversy. When the Spirit of God came powerfully on Saul, did he get saved?
Many preachers think that Saul got saved in I Samuel 10. Some Christians believe this (e.g., Chuck Missler). It certainly sounds like it on the surface. There are five things in I Samuel 10 that look like salvation. They look like conversion. Notice five things we are told about Saul.
1) The Holy Spirit came down on Saul (I Samuel 10:10).
He came down on him “MIGHTILY.” He came down on him powerfully. When we get saved, we get the Holy Spirit
2) God “changed his heart” (I Samuel 10:9 NASB, NIV).
Saul’s heart was completely changed. He was transformed. When we get saved, God changes us.
3) Saul was given “another heart” (I Samuel 10:9 KJV, NKJV, ESV).
Saul was given a heart transplant. The old heart was gone, and he was given another heart. When we get saved, we get another heart as well. It happens at the new birth.
4) Saul was changed “into another man” (I Samuel 10:6 NASB, KJV, NKJV).
He became a different person. When we get saved, we become a new creation.
5) Saul prophesied (I Samuel 10:6).
He exercised the gift of prophecy, along with other prophets in his day. When we get saved, God gives us spiritual gifts.
Not everyone agreed that this is talking about salvation. Some say (and I tend to agree with them) that this is not talking about salvation but kingship. God did change Saul.
He changed him to make him king. Saul went from a farm boy to king. He was given another heart with respect to kingship, but he did not necessarily get saved at this point.
The fact that he prophesied is not even proof of salvation. Balaam also prophesied. He delivered prophecies about the coming Messiah. The Spirit of God came upon him and he was not a true believer.
In the NT, the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas uttered a genuine prophecy. He prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation (John 11:48-50) but he was not saved. There are some who have prophesied who will end up in Hell (Matthew 7:21-23).
Dan Corner believes that Saul must have been saved because he was chosen by God and it is inconceivable that God would have chosen an unsaved man to be king over His people.
This is wrong in a number of ways. God gave Israel the king they wanted, not necessarily the most spiritual one available. Saul was chosen to be king, not chosen for salvation. Jesus chose Judas to be an Apostle and he was unsaved. Jesus called him “a son of perdition” (John 17::12 KJV) and “a devil” (John 6:70 ESV, KJV).