Israel’s first two kings



The last judge of Israel was a man called Samuel. His mother consecrated him to the work of God and left him at the temple as a young boy.  He grew up to become a great man of God and a wonderful spiritual leader for the nation.  But the people did not love and serve God as Samuel did.   They were continually looking at the surrounding nations and decided it would be better for them to have a king like the other nations and not just a spiritual leader like Samuel.  They wanted a king to lead them in their battles against their enemies.  This displeased both God and Samuel for God had been their King ever since leaving Egypt.  An earthly king would cause them to look to him for deliverance rather than to God. This grieved Samuel immensely. 


Then the Lord spoke to him, telling him not to continue grieving but to anoint a man called Saul as king. God himself would send this man to him.  This happened exactly as God had predicted.  The man came to Samuel to enquire regarding his lost donkeys and there Samuel anointed him.

Initially Saul reigned in a humble way and God blessed him. The Lord helped him to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines.  Very soon however he became disobedient to God, ignoring Him and doing things his own way.  Then the Lord rejected him and decided to appoint a new king over Israel.


We read about this in the first Book of Samuel, verses 1 to 13:

“The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  2  But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’  3  Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” 

4  Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”  5  Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.”

Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.  6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”  7  But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 

8  Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.”  9  Jesse then made Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.”  10  Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.”  11  So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 

12  So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”  13  So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.

The Lord sometimes prepares people to do His work without us being aware of it. David was just a young boy and his father did not consider him fit to be anointed as king.  But God looked at the heart of this youngster where he was working in the feldt, tending the sheep.  He had been watching him from heaven for many years and saw a young man that loved Him with all his heart, a man that would obey Him.  God knew that he would not stand between Him and his people.  He would rather do all he could to fix the eyes of Israel on the Lord.


As soon as the Spirit of God came upon David, His Spirit departed from Saul. An evil spirit then came to trouble and disturb him. He took poor dicisions and his success in war dwindled.  At a certain time, Saul and his army were encamped over against the Philistine army.  We read 1 Samuel chapter 17: 4-11:

 4  A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall.  5  He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armour of bronze weighing five thousand shekels;  6  on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back.  7  His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield-bearer went ahead of him.

8  Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me.  9  If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”  10  Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.”  11  On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” 

This mocking of God and his army continued for 40 days. Then David arrived. His father Jesse had sent Him to deliver food to his three elder brothers serving as soldiers in Saul’s army.  He had just handed this over, when this Philistine giant, Goliath, again came forth to mock God.  David got very upset for He loved the Lord and could not stand this mocking of his Lord.  He spoke to some of Saul’s nearby soldiers implying that he would be willing to fight the giant.  They then took him along to king Saul.  We follow the story from verse 33:

“Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”  34  But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,  35  I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  36  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  37  The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”.

Saul then offered his armour, shield and spear to David.  They were however so heavy that he could hardly walk, so he took off the metal armour and returned it as well as the shield and spear.  We read verses 40 to 52:

“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 

41  Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield-bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.  42  He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him.  43  He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  44  “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” 

45  David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  46  This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  47  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly towards the battle line to meet him.  49  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.  50  So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.  51  David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.  52  Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron.

What a mighty victory and that by a young man who was not even a trained soldier, just a shepherd.  What was David’s secret?  He went forth in God’s Name and in God’s power.  He was not ashamed to shout it out in the hearing of both armies that he trusted the one and only God.  And God honoured his trust and gave him the victory and uplifted him before all those people.  Let us never be ashamed of David’s God Who also is our God .  If we accepted Jesus Christ, the Son of God as our Lord and Saviour, let us confess it.  Let us tell everybody about Him and how he saved us and how He can save them.


The question we would all now ask, is “Did David then become the king?” The answer is “No”.  God still had to prepare him for many years before he would be ready.  But the Lord did take him forward another step and caused Saul to take him into his palace and appoint him as his shield bearer.  There David also played soothing spiritual music to Saul on his harp when the evil spirit troubled him. 

But Saul became jealous of David for David often went out to war against the Philistines and every time he returned victorious and the nation of Israel praised him as their great hero.  Twice, when the evil spirit came over Saul he tried to pin David to the wall with his spear. 

David however eluded him and fled into the desert country where about 600 men joined him.  He became their leader and trained them into a mighty army.  This went on for many years during which Saul often chased after David with his whole army.  God however protected him.  On two occasions David could have killed Saul, but he refrained from doing so for he still regarded Saul as God’s anointed servant and he would not snatch the kingdom from him. Although he was anointed by God to be the king of Israel, he was willing to wait for God to put him onto the throne.


Then, one day, as Saul again fought the Philistines he got killed and soon after, first the tribe of Juda and later on all the tribes of Israel, anointed David as their king. 

David never was a perfect person or a perfect king. Twice he sinned badly for which God allowed him to suffer  severely.  But deep down in his heart, he loved God dearly, so the Lord never rejected him as He did with Saul. He also inspired David to write many songs which are saved for us to read in the Book of Psalms.


Every country of the world needs a Christian leader that knows and loves God. Many nations are suffering because of the fact that their leaders uplift themselves instead of uplifting God. Are you a leader? Do you love God?  Are you honest? Are you imploring your people to love and serve God? If you have not yet accepted the Lord Jesus as your Saviour and God, why don’t you do so right now? He will cause you to become a David and your people will respect and serve you willingly. Prosperity will come to your country.

Perhaps you are not a community leader but a father – you have a wife and children. Are you a David to them?  Do you protect them against the onslaughts of the devil and of sin?  Do you teach them how to serve God?  Or are they suffering because of your bad habits.  Saul continued in his bad, sinful way of living for many, many years but the day came when he had to pay the price with his own life.  David also had to wait and suffer many, many years but eventually God uplifted him.  Who do you want to be: a David or a Saul?  The choice is yours.

Do read our next teaching concerning some of the other kings of Israel and the nation’s eventual exile.



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